How to Make Every Meeting More Productive

Meetings are a necessary part of any business.  They inform both employers and employees of important information and changes that affect the business.  While employees are expected to attend frequent meetings, how much is really being accomplished in each meeting?  The truth is many workers see meetings as a waste of time.  They admit to daydreaming, working on other projects, checking social media, or browsing the internet during meetings.  It can actually be frustrating to think about how much of the work week was spent in unproductive meetings.  But, meetings don’t have to be boring and unproductive.  When conducted correctly,meetings can produce new ideas, solve problems, inform employees, and help projects move forward.  Here are a few things you can do to make your meetings more productive. 

Provide an Agenda Ahead of Time

Before the meeting begins, an agenda should be created that outlines everything that will be discussed in the meeting.  Then, the agenda should be sent out to all attendees in advance.  Not only will this provide a structure for the meeting to follow, but it will give attendees the chance to prepare information and questions about the topics.   Meetings are almost always more successful when they have an agenda to work from and topics that are relevant. 

Select an Engaging Facilitator

Nothing is more frustrating that sitting in a meeting where everyone is shouting over one another to be heard.  It can be equally as frustrating when there isn’t a single individual who is offering to speak up.  All of this can be avoided by establishing a facilitator ahead of time.  The facilitator is responsible for keeping the conversation on track, engaging employees with thoughtful questions, and making sure the conversation is organized. Facilitators are helpful in making the conversation flow more easily and encouraging everyone to participate.

Start the Meeting on Time

If meetings don’t start on time than chances are they aren’t going to end on time. This can throw everyone’s schedule off and create a sense of frustration before the meeting ever begins.  If you make it a point to start all of your meetings on time you will create a culture where people’s time feels valued and important.

Avoid Times When People Are More Likely to Be Distracted

Friday afternoon is clearly not the ideal time to hold a meeting.  Holding meetings at the end of the day is usually never a good idea because employees are antsy to leave.  It is also less productive to hold meetings right before lunch because people tend to be hungry and distracted.  Choose a time when employees are more likely to be focused and engaged such as first thing in the morning.

Invite the Right People

Some leaders leave people out of meetings who should be there or invite people who don’t need to be there.  Before calling the meeting, decide what the goals are and who really needs to be there. You should only invite people who can contribute and you should make sure they know why they are being asked to attend.

Eliminate Distractions

Ask attendees to leave all electronics including laptops and cell phones back at the desk unless they need their computer to present.  This eliminates the possibility of outside distractions.

Set Clear Goals

We have all sat through a meeting that seemed to have no end in sight.  The most effective meetings are the ones that have clear goals and objectives.  Whether the meeting is about informing employees of a new product, making a decision about an upcoming project, or discussing a change in policy, the goals of the meeting need to be clear from the start.