5 Ways To Make Your 2015 Meetings More Productive

Here are five rules to live by to make your business meetings more meaningful and productive.

Elliot Markowitz

January 14, 2015

4 Min Read
5 Ways To Make Your 2015 Meetings More Productive

We’ve all been there. Stuck in meetings hour after hour when you know you could be more productive doing something else. The business world has become infected with too many meetings that produce too few results. Lost productivity is the casualty.

While intercompany meetings are necessary, far too often they are a waste of time for all involved. Nothing changes. Nothing gets resolved. There are few things more frustrating in the business world than having your day jam-packed with meetings that you know doesn’t particularly pertain to your job responsibility or you know will have little measurable outcome. That needs to change.

Here are five rules to live by to make your business meetings more meaningful and productive.

1. Only include necessary personnel: No one really wants to attend any more meetings than they have to. However, in many cases meeting organizers invite anyone that may be remotely interested in a project to join, even though 90 percent of the actual subject matter has nothing to do with them. This is a colossal waste of time and in many instances some people feel the need to contribute just because they are in the room. This also can take the meeting off-course. Limit the amount of people attending each meeting to those directly involved. Try smaller, more focused gatherings. If issues arise that need other expertise or attention, address those after. However, having long meetings with more than a dozen attendees usually is a waste of most people’s time.

2. Send out background materials in advance: How many times have you been in a meeting where someone asks, “What is the meeting about, anyway?” How many times have you not had the most current or the proper references to add value to the meeting? As a meeting organizer, send background materials in the invite or to all attendees. Do not rely on passing them out during the meeting. Sending them in advance gives the attendees the opportunity to look them over and give the subject more thought. The better-prepared the attendees are the more productive the meeting will be.

3. Have an agenda: Many business meetings ramble and attendees go off on tangents that aren’t related to what the purpose of the meeting is about. The way to keep a meeting on track is to have a shared agenda with what you want addressed, point by point. That way, when a meeting starts going in the wrong direction, it is easier to get it back on track. Again, this is to make the meeting more productive and valuable.

4. Keep it to the allotted time: If you have too many attendees (which most meetings do), and if you haven’t provided previous materials (which many people don’t) and you don’t have a clear agenda, chances are your meeting will run over the allotted time. As a result, many key players may have to leave before a resolution is made and the day ends up snowballing for most people after that. If you planned for 30 minutes, keep it to 30 minutes. If you planned for an hour, keep it to an hour. Show the attendees that their time is valuable. By staying to the allotted time your attendees will want to get down to business so nothing is left unaddressed.

5. Assign action items: What is the worst part of a meeting? The fact that nothing changes after it is over. The issue isn’t resolved. The process is not changed. The problem is not addressed. Why? Many times when a meeting ends most attendees don’t know if they are supposed to actually do something with what was just discussed. Five minutes before wrapping up a meeting, action items should be assigned. Everyone who attended should have a clear understanding what their role is in the next step. Otherwise, it was just a waste of their time. 

Time is precious. Companies are always looking to do more with less. Many employees complain they can’t actually get their job done because they sit in too many unproductive meetings. Change the routine. Get your meetings back on track by keeping them smaller more focused, and respectful of people’s time and holding those involved accountable.

About the Author(s)

Elliot Markowitz

Elliot Markowitz is a veteran in channel publishing. He served as an editor at CRN for 11 years, was editorial director of webcasts and events at Ziff Davis, and also built the webcast group as editorial director at Nielsen Business Media. He's served in senior leadership roles across several channel brands.

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