Meetings are so divisive. Some people relish the thought of getting together to chat through ideas. Others loathe them. Then, there is the inevitable time-wasting with late-comers, those who seem to contribute little, and a vague agenda no one seems to stick to.

How can we have better meetings?

Alexander Kjerulf, author of well-respected blog, the Chief Happiness Officer, has some great suggestions on how to reduce the eye-roll moments when it comes to group gatherings.

Firstly, set up a strategy to make sure everyone arrives on time. Lateness is one of the worst ‘mood setters’ for meetings.

If the reality is everyone ambles in, understand that a 3pm meeting hits the road – regardless – at 3.15pm. Even if major players are absent.

If punctuality is really important, then make a game out of setting strict start times. For example, each person has a jar and for every late arrival they get a red marble – vs a green marble for on time.

Latest person has to shout morning tea at the end of the month!

Once everyone is in the room, ensure that the meeting starts on a positive note. Celebrate a win, or acknowledge a person who’s gone the extra mile. Start upbeat – and interaction is likely to flow better.

There is a growing trend for standing meetings. This is because when people settle into a chair it’s all too easy for them to lose momentum and switch off. A standing meeting makes us focus on our physical position and why we are together.

Consider when this may be an appropriate format – especially if the meeting is a work in progress meeting where the agenda is about updates, rather than discussing or debating issues.

One of Kjerulf’s most interesting tips is the inclusion of planned silences in meetings. If there are important decisions to be made, take submissions for the group and then ask everyone to take two minutes of contemplation before going around the room to garner considered thoughts.

When something is important it’s too easy to ‘think out loud’. Whilst silence feels contrary to the very idea of meeting, it’s the perfect circuit breaker to crystallise thinking, says Kjerulf.