How active should you be in business meetings? Is it important to have an opinion on every issue, or should you wait until you have a valuable point to make?

According to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational management at Lancaster University Management School, it's all too easy to spend an hour in a meeting where people drone on without saying anything.

In his view, it's much better if participants speak a little less and think a little more in meetings, to ensure the points they make are relevant. This makes for a much more succinct gathering, one that is usually more successful.

Speaking to Management Today, Professor Cooper warned against hogging meetings by interjecting for the sake of it and making long, laborious speeches.

"Save interventions for when you have something meaningful to say. Quality is more important than quantity," he urged.

In his opinion, it can sometimes make sense to wait until a more advanced stage of the meeting before taking the floor.

Professor Cooper said a late intervention can be effective because it stays in people's minds after the meeting. It can give participants the last word on a particular issue.

Of course, planning is all important if professionals are to make valid contributions in business meetings.

He urged businesspeople to look at the agenda in advance of the meeting and identify the important issues.

"Set yourself an objective and gather all the data you'll need so you're ready if challenged," Professor Cooper added.