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Linking pre-meeting communication to meeting effectiveness

Joseph A. Allen (Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA)
Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock (Department of Social & Organizational Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Nicole Landowski (Department of Psychology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of communication that occurs just before workplace meetings (i.e. pre-meeting talk). The paper explores how four specific types of pre-meeting talk (small talk, work talk, meeting preparatory talk, and shop talk) impact participants’ experiences of meeting effectiveness. Moreover, the authors investigate the role of participants’ personality in the link between pre-meeting talk and perceived meeting effectiveness.


Data were obtained using an online survey of working adults (n=252). Because pre-meeting talk has not been studied previously, a new survey measure of meeting talk was developed.


Pre-meeting small talk was a significant predictor of meeting effectiveness, even while considering good meeting procedures. Extraversion was identified as a moderator in this context, such that the relationship between pre-meeting talk and perceived meeting effectiveness was stronger for less extraverted participants.

Research limitations/implications

The findings provide the first empirical support for the ripple effect, in terms of meetings producing pre-meeting talk, and suggest that pre-meeting talk meaningfully impact employees’ meeting experiences and perceptions of meeting effectiveness. To address limitations inherent in the cross-section correlational design of the study, future research should experimentally test whether pre-meeting talk actually causes changes in meeting processes and outcomes.

Practical implications

Managers should encourage their employees to arrive in time to participate in pre-meeting talk. Side conversations before a scheduled meeting starts can have beneficial effects for meeting outcomes and should be fostered.


There is very limited research on the role of pre-meeting talk. The authors identify that small talk is a predictor of meeting effectiveness even after considering previously studied good meeting procedures.



A. Allen, J., Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. and Landowski, N. (2014), "Linking pre-meeting communication to meeting effectiveness", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 1064-1081.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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