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How to Have More Productive Meetings?

Meetings are one of many activities of a company or organization or team to increase productivity and efficiency, meetings can occur in the workplace or online. Meetings take up a huge portion of our working life, but how much do they truly accomplish? Korn Ferry's study reveals that they are not doing as well as they might. In fact, more than 34% of professionals polled by the organizational consultancy in 2019 indicated they squander between two and five hours each week on pointless calls or meetings. Furthermore, more than two-thirds (67%) reported that spending too much time in meetings and on phone conversations kept them from making an effect at work. Moreover, when everyone has the same idea and is aware of the purposes, the most challenging tasks or difficult targets can be achieved. But how to make more productive meetings?

1. Ways to run highly productive meetings

1.1. Prepare carefully before setting up a meeting

The first tip to have a more successful meeting is preparation. Before the meeting starts, provide all participants with a list of what will be discussed in that meeting.

Don’t know what to include on that list? Here are some of the most common things usually discussed in the meeting:

– What topics are to be covered in the meeting?

– A brief description of the meeting’s goals and objectives

– A list of people attending the meeting

– Who will address a specific topic

– Time and location of the meeting

Prepare carefully to have a more successful meeting
Figure 1. Prepare carefully to have a more successful meeting

A well-prepared meeting is one of the most important aspects to achieve a successful meeting. So, you should take a good look at this first step.

1.2. Have a clear objective and a target for the meeting

What are the purposes of the meeting? Is the meeting needed to generate new ideas, gather more information, or make decisions? Or perhaps it is a combination of the above?

And if you are unsure of what you are trying to complete, definitely the meeting will become meaningless. A clear goal and a concrete agenda is the thing you must have in the meeting.

Because meetings aren’t workplace events but are goal-oriented business events.

So, after you prepare to set up the meeting, tell people who might invite you the reason why you want to have a meeting. It gives participants time to prepare, do research, and think about their viewpoints on the list of things that will be discussed.

1.3. Limit attendees

If you want to make the more productive meetings, make sure the people who need to be in the room are there. The more people attend the meeting, the more unrelated discussion will occur and will reduce the effectiveness of the meeting.

Ask yourself those tough questions: Do all these people need to attend the meeting? If you can reduce a half-hour meeting’s attendee list by just two people whose presence isn’t essential to the productive meetings, bravo, you just saved an hour of productive time for the company.

1.4. Don’t try multitasking in the meeting

Multitasking is a side effect of our modern, always-connected life. We can do our job in the workplace everywhere, but it has a side effect. A study shows multitasking can help you achieve more than one goal at the same time, but in total, it will make us less effective and increases stress.

Even more shockingly, Harvard Business Review reports that people who always try multitasking lead to a 40% drop in productivity and a loss of 10 IQ points.

Multitasking in the middle of a meeting will lead to less productive meetings
Figure 2. Multitasking in the middle of a meeting will lead to less productive meetings

So, how can you prevent participants from multitasking at the meetings?

The most effective way to keep participants from multitasking is to keep their mobile devices in silent mode (they still can receive information if they have urgent calls). The survey shows that employees who use smartphones and computers are distracted on average after every 10 minutes. And if everyone in the meeting uses their phones and computer for personal things, your meeting is ruined.

1.5. Keep meetings as short as possible

The fact has shown that after 30 minutes into the meeting, the ability to focus is not as sharp as at the beginning. Don’t blame them not that they are bored or easily distracted, it is just about the human mind when it has a lot of information to process. The longer the meeting, the more effort it will take to keep up the energy and discussion.

Having short meetings is an essential requirement if you want to be more productive, so feel free to give your meetings a “hard stop” whenever it feels right. And 1 hour is generally the longest time workers can remain truly engaged. So, do not schedule any meetings to last longer than an hour, people appreciate it when you understand that their time is valuable.

1.6. End with an action plan

A meeting that does not result in actionable progress toward a specific objective, regardless of how much time is provided, is not particularly effective. Make sure your meeting concludes with meaningful measures and a way to track progress. Request that someone volunteer to take notes throughout the meeting. You'll have notes to refer back to, and you'll be able to assign follow-up tasks to each member of the team.

Set aside the last few minutes of every meeting to discuss the next steps, such as defining who is accountable for what, deadlines for each work and the sequence in which to execute them, and how each task may affect other office operations.

After your meeting, assign assignments to team members to hold everyone responsible in the future. This allows you to align assignments and deadlines while also ensuring that everyone may make adjustments or additions. Nothing will fall between the gaps this way.

2. Common mistakes affect your productive meetings

2.1. Too many meetings

One of the most common complaints among professionals is that there are too many meetings on the schedule and not enough time to complete crucial tasks. When there are too many meetings, people often disconnect, making it virtually hard to have productive meetings.

Too many meetings make people unfocused
Figure 3. Too many meetings make people unfocused

Examine your meeting calendar to see if the number and frequency of meetings are truly essential. Some meetings can be cut in length or shifted to every other week. Furthermore, constant communication among team members might eliminate several meetings.

2.2. Arriving late and finishing late

Everyone has been irritated when someone is late for a meeting. You've either been waiting for them before you started or you've now have to get them up to speed on action items.

When you arrive late for a meeting, you convey the message to your team members that your time is more precious than theirs. Arrive on time and be friendly to other team members.

Another vexing meeting issue is when there are just two minutes remaining in the planned meeting time and there are still action items to discuss. Team leaders should document the issues to address and plan a follow-up call for a good meeting time that is convenient for everyone, rather than prolonging the time and keeping the meeting going.

2.3. Using cell phones

Smartphones have significantly reduced the typical human's attention span. Text messages, emails, and a slew of other notifications vie for our attention.

Leave your phone in another room or flip it face down to avoid distraction. It's also a good idea to prohibit computer use during meetings so that everyone can stay focused and make the most of the time.

2.4. No ground rules

Every team member should understand the meeting ground rules. Meeting rules might include the following:

  • Attendance. If a person is unable to attend a meeting, they should be aware of who they should notify and how long in advance is appropriate.

  • Dealing with interruptions. Meetings are disrupted by interruptions, and everyone should be on the same page about what to do if a phone call or personal issue arises during a meeting.

  • Beginning and terminating on time.

  • Allowing or prohibiting mobile phone and computer use during meetings.

Make a list of your ground rules. You may even write them on the conference room wall. Also, make sure they are included in your new recruit orientation.

2.5. Lack of participation

Meeting leaders must plan meetings in such a manner that each team member is engaged. When just one or two decision-makers speak at a meeting, the rest of the group finds it difficult to pay attention or feel that their input is valued.

Lack of participation
Figure 4. Lack of participation

Make each team member responsible for a distinct agenda item. If their name appears next to an item, they will be more prepared, participate, and pay attention. You can also delegate the task of taking minutes or taking notes to someone who must remain vigilant.


To be more productive at the meeting, you have to do so many things, from preparing the meeting to deciding how to keep the meeting as short as possible. But definitely, this hard work is worth the trade-off to have more productive meetings.

Source: Internet

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