How to Have More Effective Meetings With A.C.E.

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Learn How to A.C.E. Meetings

‘The reason people don’t want productive meetings is that they’d have to do more work.’

My old boss gave this sage-like advice. The ‘but’ is that if we accept this as the norm, we are doomed forever. Having to accept that meeting, after meeting, after meeting, is the way it is. Are we doomed to live in this eternal nightmare?

We don’t have to be.

Yes, you can read the meeting books. They’ll normally start with ‘Have an objective’. The words ‘…Sherlock’ come to mind. As with many self-help books, the advice is obvious and will not change your behaviour. But that’s a story for another time.

The Change Formula

There is another way though, here’s the rub. It’s the change formula. The formula works by each of the first 3 parts being multiplied and if they are bigger than the resistance, change happens.

Click the image below for a higher resolution.

Dannemiller formula for change infographic
The Dannemiller Formula for Change includes Dissatisfaction, Vision, First step, and Resistance


So, in order for you to make a change in behaviour, you need to be dissatisfied a lot. Enough to want to overcome any resistance to change, which there will be – ‘Non-one else is changing, so why should I?’

The other two parts of the change formula we’ll cover in a minute.

How to Use A.C.E. in Meetings

Click the image below for a higher resolution.

ACE acronym for agenda capture and evaluate for better meetings
A.C.E acronym stands for Agenda, Capture, Evaluate



At the start of the meeting take the first 5-7 minutes. Ask, ‘What items are we here to discuss?’. Write them down. Preferably where everyone can see. Once you have them all, group them into the high medium, and low whilst people watch, allowing them to shout, ‘We must do that today’. This whole process is quick and dependent upon you being strong enough not to allow discussion about the content of each point at this stage.


Ask someone to capture the actions. Typing them directly into an email in this format: ‘1. Bob…Get the PowerPoint presentation updated of the XYZ…18-10-20’. And as soon as the meeting ends, bang – send the email out. No tidying-up the formatting. No re-checking. Live the 80:20 and just get it sent. The subject heading is ‘Actions – 09-10-20 – Bob/Andy/Mike’. First agenda items next time? ‘Previous actions’.


At the end of the meeting spare 90 seconds. Ask this question – ‘What one thing can we do to improve this meeting?’. Three people get up to 30 seconds to share. Only choose 3 people.

Click on the infographic below to see a higher resolution version:

Purple infographic with meeting statistics
No meeting at all may be better than an unproductive meeting


Revisiting the Change Formula

Coming back to the change formula. The two other parts are the first step and vision. Your first step is to do A.C.E. at all of your meetings. Get it wrong and then do it better at the next one. Vision, well, imagine if meetings actually added value, people did their actions, and the business moved forward because of them. We can hope…

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