Every time I sat in a meeting, I asked myself, “Are meetings productive?”. I recall a coworker who looked like he wanted to rip his hair out. Somedays, people don’t know how to conduct a productive meeting. If they did, meetings would not be a massive waste of time.
Meetings that would take up so much of my time were the last thing I wanted to do. During those 90 minutes, I couldn’t have done anything else.
We all know meetings can be a necessary evil at work and a colossal waste of time. This post will discuss five ways to make meetings more productive while reducing meeting time.
UPDATED: OCTOBER 25, 2022
- Keep Sessions At A Minimum
- Have An Agenda & Stick To It
- Give Your Employees An “Out”
- Keep The Dialogue Going
- Encourage Others To Participate
Steps in conducting a meeting
Keep sessions at a minimum
Sometimes you need to take a “cut to the chase, let’s get straight to the point” approach. Meetings can go smoother and more straightforward if kept in a short time frame.
Usually, after 45 minutes or longer, then people’s minds start to wander off. I suggest saving minutes between 30-60 minutes, but no more than an hour. After an hour into a meeting, you may start losing valuable time for people to work on other things.
If you manage a team where you need to meet with them regularly, another suggestion would be to have a team meeting once a week. I know many companies do this, and you can limit it to just one hour that week. After that, try to avoid additional time to hold meetings if it’s not necessary.
Have an agenda & stick to it
One problem is not planning meetings ahead of time. Meetings can go much smoother if there is some schedule to follow, with critical points to discuss. When we mention essential issues, it’s vital to review any spots that need to go over in person.
On the other hand, minor things such as announcements or updates should be left out. They may be worth mentioning, but they can be a time-waster as well.
An extra 5-10 minutes may not be much but can make a difference in how the rest of everybody’s day goes. Instead, communicate announcements and updates through email messages, one-on-one meetings, or brief phone calls when possible.
Give your employees an “Out”
It can be challenging to get large groups to meet in person. In that case, have meetings in smaller groups, and that can be no more than ten people sitting in a conference room together.
More than ten people can be distracting, and not everyone would contribute in that short time frame. In a meeting that lasted less than an hour, not everyone would get to talk or provide feedback if it was in a large group setting.
Also, know when to give employees an “out” if their input is not needed. Sometimes, it’s okay to allow employees to decline if the topic is not relevant to them politely.
That individual may need more time to work on projects and meet deadlines. Allowing that option shows you respect that person’s time, which permits them to work on their top priorities.
Keep the dialogue going
It’s one thing to sit in a meeting, listen to others, and talk for 30 seconds. But facilitating a conference takes more effort. If you’re the one who takes charge of the list, keep in mind: you are running the show.
It’s good to be considerate of others’ time with each other. Everyone is taking time out of their day for the meeting.
So you need to make the most of their time. Also, it’s good to have backup questions if the meeting is between 30-60 minutes.
You don’t want to have long pauses or awkward moments of silence in your group. If you know what I mean, these moments are when meetings can be unproductive.
In my last job, one of my shift managers facilitated a meeting with my coworkers and me. To her credit, she was able to keep the dialogue going. When she would ask questions to us, she briefly waited and then continued talking about other topics to be discussed.
I remember one coworker saying our shift manager did a great job with the timing. If it were the other way around, the meeting would’ve ended sooner.
Moreover, if you have to finish a session earlier, don’t hesitate to wrap up and thank everybody for taking the time out of their day. The shorter the meetings, the better for employees to have time for work that matters the most.
Encourage others to participate
If you want to make the most out of your meetings, let each person chime in. If someone is sitting in a forum, they should be an active participant in the group and input the subject.
It doesn’t do anybody any good to sit around and not participate the whole time. They don’t want to walk out, feeling that the meeting wasn’t for them. Believe it or not, I think that has happened to me in some sessions I’ve sat in over the years.
I have to give credit to a senior-level manager who encouraged everyone to participate in a past meeting. This individual made it clear that he wanted to hear everyone’s thoughts on the topics we discussed.
He did it encouragingly, so it’s not like he made us uncomfortable or felt like he was forcing us to speak our minds. It’s moments like this time when I thought that the meeting was meaningful, and I got so much out of it.
In other words, if you facilitate meetings at work, be encouraging and challenging your group to participate and give feedback.
So are meetings productive? They can be as long as you focus on your main points. Meetings can be a drag for many people. The main takeaway is that meetings can set much time back for people behind at work.
Not to mention the loss of productivity, but another reason why people work more hours than needed. Practicing the approaches mentioned earlier can help limit time while sticking to a schedule.
Your Turn: Do you think meetings are effective?
Are meetings productive? Do you find them annoying or engaging? Which of the tips mentioned earlier do you find to be better for running meetings?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading them, and I’ll gladly respond back promptly.
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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.
4 thoughts on “How To Conduct A Productive Meeting: 5 Best Practices”
I can’t thank you enough for this great post! In every meeting I attend, I am always wondering how it could have been run more effectively. I personally value trying to meet less frequently to make sure that the agenda items are truly important and warrant discussion. I really enjoyed reading your perspective and tips to get additional suggestions for being as effective as possible!
Sticking to an agenda of items to talk about during meetings helps. Oftentimes, people tend to get off track and discuss unrelated topics. It’s not uncommon, and it continues to be a problem today.
Understanding how to run meetings effectively can benefit you and your business. If you understand how to do it properly, you’re already a step ahead of everyone else.
I agree with the points you mentioned, as sticking to an agenda of items to talk about can help. It’s good to be prepared regardless of.
Thank you again for your thoughts- much appreciated.
My bosses need to read your blog post! I hate going to their meetings. They always take forever and they add in videos and activities that they think are motivational but they take at least half an hour of the meeting and then we still have to stay there for several more hours (between 3 to 5 hours). I like the motivational parts, they are important, but they shouldn’t be stretched out either. Most of my colleagues always interrupt and when you raise your hand to say something it can take forever (and many interruptions) until you finally get to say something … Many times I didn’t even bother to say anythng because it has always been such a battle to get myself heard at meetings. Most topics that are discussed at those long meetings could also easily be communicated via email.
One of my bosses knows how to keep meetings short and effective and when we have a meeting with him I always know that he’ll get to the point and we’ll use our time effecively, but when my other bosses call for a meeting … I cringe.
These are really good tips here. Perhaps I should send this to my bosses 😉
Meetings can turn out one way or the other, so you never know what could happen. People who run meetings may think they’re doing something beneficial; however, it usually might not be the case.
Meetings can be motivational to an extent. But I understand what you’re saying- they can be draining and I don’t like how they’re long as well. Also, I cannot stand interruptions.
It sounds like your bosses could use a lesson or two in running better meetings. Feel free to pass on this post to them- you never know if they may get value out of reading it.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I thought they were spot on, and very much appreciated.