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Webinar #18: From passive to productive - How to hold effective meetings

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Tired of feeling like you have too many meetings?

Whether you are a seasoned academic or an early career researcher, you may have experienced the frustration of attending inefficient and unproductive meetings, or find yourself overloaded with back-to-back meetings and not enough time to get your work done.

In the first webinar of the Women in Research 'Small Wins' series for 2023, our host ARC Laureate Fellow and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Sharon Parker from Curtin University will share research findings and advice around planning for and running effective and productive meetings.

She is joined by former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at University of Wollongong and former Director of the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Jenny Martin who will share her experience and provide proven tips on improving the quality of meeting participation and outcomes.

Sharon’s evidence-based strategies to help you set up meetings for success:

Please note: Much of Sharon’s evidence-based tips come from this excellent book, 'The Surprising Science of Meetings' by Dr Steven Rogelberg (

  • How to prepare?

o Be clear why you are having the meeting and prepare accordingly

o Invite who needs to be there (Invite people that will engage, not act as spectators)

o Prepare and circulate a meeting agenda that allows participants to contribute and add different items to

o Consider time and place when organising meetings, as well as adding variety into where and when to organise meetings

  • What is the right size?

o To avoid ‘social loafing’ and disengagement, ideally no more than seven people should be present in a meeting. But there are creative ways to involve other people whose voice you’d like to include, for example by appointing representatives to gather others’ ideas prior to the meeting

o Improving inclusion after the meeting can be done by inviting everyone to contribute to the meeting minutes

  • Before the meeting

o Schedule shorter meetings – they do not have to last an hour (Parkinson’s Law – if you’re given more time to do a task, you will often take more time)

o Schedule meetings at inclusive times (if possible, avoid school pickup times etc)

o Try and rotate roles (e.g chair, minute taker, catering organiser, timekeeper) and ensure specific roles are not assigned based on gender stereotypes

o Having an agenda gives a voice to more introverted individuals to influence more dominant people in meetings

  • Beginning the meeting

o Create a sense of positive presence in the meeting

o Encourage attendees to eliminate distractions and be fully present during meetings

o Be clear on the purpose, expectations and establish norms for the meeting

o Start the meeting on time – showing that you value others’ time

  • Keeping things on track

o Meetings are more successful when someone is assigned to remind attendees to stay on track and on time

o Try and create structures where people write down their ideas. This way, everyone can equally contribute to the meeting and not stifled by dominant members

o Leader behaviours to solicit participation are key, and everyone in the meeting can engage in these behaviours (e.g active listening, asks questions, drawn on inputs etc.)

o Remote meetings require more preparation and more active participation techniques

o Inclusive Meetings at CSIRO Guide, shared courtesy of Courtney MacMillan: (

A typical meeting in Jenny’s lab would always have:

o Everybody in the meeting knowing the purpose of the meeting, what their role was and the expectations of them

o An agenda, contributed to by all meeting participants

o Each person talking about their achievements

o Rotating meeting chairs

o Permanent agenda items to build connections, e.g tips and tricks, 'Result of the Week' (Read more on 'Result of the week' on Jenny's blog:

o Follow up on previous meeting minutes

Download PDF • 2.40MB


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