How to Make Your Business Meetings Better

Too many business meetings descend into pointless slanging matches. Individuals, teams and divisions are often all too capable of describing problems (and purporting blame), but what is actually achieved? How many business meetings are remembered? How many bright ideas from the boardroom table transform into measurable action? The answer is, not nearly enough.

Effective facilitation is critical to business meeting success. In order to facilitate well, you need to know how to get the most out of your team. For this, Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development (1965) offer a good starting point. See how many traits you can spot in your business meetings. Help your team grow, tackle problems, find solutions and deliver results.

The “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing” model


Forming refers to the initial team building stage. In business meetings, forming is often about identifying the scope of a problem, before a specific task is set to solve it. During this introductory phase, team members often want to avoid any conflict and controversy. They simply want to be accepted. First impressions are made and important information is gathered. As a facilitator, the forming stage lets you see how individuals collaborate and respond to pressure.

TIP: Have a plan. Specify desired outcomes. What do you want to achieve?


Storming is where the big ideas are suggested. This stage can be quite competitive, as participants are required to open up and confront each other’s ideas. It can also be incredibly long. Those business meetings that descend into slanging matches tend to get stuck in the storming stage. Good facilitators can referee this process without getting involved in the content of discussions.

TIP: People engage, communicate and learn in different ways. Provide participation in a way that accommodates diversity


Norming refers to the construction of an agreeable plan. The single plan must involve all team members. All roles and responsibilities must be clearly identified.

TIP: Evaluate the tangibility of your plan. Be clear about how individual group members will be involved at every stage


Performing teams require little supervision because they are both motivated and knowledgeable. Those teams who reach the performing stage work smoothly as one body. With the key roles and responsibilities identified and understood by all participants, decisions can be made independently in the interest of the team.

TIP: Bounce any questions back to the audience. Don’t answer them yourself. To facilitate is not to lead

The important thing to recognise about Tuckman’s stages of group development is that they refer to a process, a cycle. Even performing phase teams can move backwards. Understanding what stage your team is at can help you plan a way forward, making measurable progress a key element of your business meetings. Try it.

You may find the following process tools useful in your mission to create more memorable business meetings:

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