Mastering Meetings – One-to-Ones

Mastering Meetings – One-to-Ones Share

In part two of our Managing Meetings follow-up, this week we’re looking at one-to-ones, and how to get the most out of them, whichever side of the table you’re on. Here are our top tips.

Have a schedule and stick to it

Leading by example has always been seen as an effective management technique, so set the standard when it comes to regular and quality communication. Many people schedule such catch-ups, but few follow through on these arrangements as much as they should. If you believe in the importance of quality communication and want to be seen as reliable, professional and someone who really cares about their team, make arrangements and make them stick.

Prepare properly

Much like you would in a larger meeting: prepare an agenda, or at least an informal list of things you’d like to talk about, and share this with whoever you’re meeting in advance. Ask them to do the same so you both have a chance to bring ideas/examples with you to the meeting to make best use of the time. Your agenda could be a regular list of topics covered every meeting or special one-off issues for discussion.


Good preparation also involves telling others not to disturb you during your one-to-ones, and planning your work so as to enable yourself to be completely present in and focused on the meeting at hand.

Share the air

Successful one-on-ones are conversations where each of you do approximately half the talking, and topics both of you wish to raise are covered equally. If you’re the manager or senior figure, let whoever you’re meeting with go first, giving them space and time to share their thoughts and views. Set a good example of listening, and they will more than likely do the same for you when it’s your turn to speak.

It’s also important to leave time to discuss open issues or have more social conversation. Not all colleagues will be best friends but getting to know a bit more about each other beyond the professional persona will make for a smoother working relationship.

Agree actions – and follow them up!

As with any good meeting, both sides should come away from it with something to research, develop, improve or report back on for next time. Schedule the last few minutes of the meeting for each of you to go through and say what you’re committing to and by when. Following this up with an email afterwards help solidify your agreements.

Tailor your style

While what we’ve just said may sound pretty prescriptive, our final piece of advice is to be flexible and respond to the preferences of different individuals you meet with. Some like to be very organised and focus on facts and figures, some prefer to have a lengthier informal chat, others need a lot more gentle coaxing to open up. Adapting simple things like the tone of your voice, the time of day you meet or the order you run through things in can help make a success of all your meetings. Just make sure you give them a fair amount of time, space and respect and you can’t go wrong.

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