In the past, I have had many meetings in which I felt were genuinely pointless and quite frankly, a waste of time. From these experiences, I’ve adopted 7 easy ways that have led me to have more efficient and productive meetings:
1. Start and end on time
Time is valuable. Ideally, no one wants to wait 10+ minutes for a meeting to start or stay an additional 10+ minutes overtime. Value the start and end time of the meeting. If you think the meeting will need more time, schedule more time! Don’t adjust the schedule of the meeting the last minute.
2. Have an agenda
Verbalize or display the agenda at the start of the meeting. Having a unified schedule that all group members are aware of will allow the meeting to move swiftly, with a coherent direction.
3. Stay on topic
Having an agenda will minimize the issue of not staying on topic. However, if the conversation strays to a different, irrelevant topic, refer back to the agenda. Also, make sure all group members know the importance of staying on topic in the start of the meeting.
4. Have an end goal
Having an end goal ensures that the meeting will be purposeful. In addition to the agenda, verbalize the end goal at the start of the meeting. Near the end of the meeting, wrap up on key points and takeaways gained from the meeting.
5. Utilize a meeting space
Take advantage of a meeting space and use an appropriate meeting space with the goal in mind. For instance, make sure the tables and chairs are arranged in a way that allows everyone to see and hear each other clearly.
6. Implement breaks
Rule of thumb, if the meeting is longer than an hour, you should implement 5-10 minute breaks for each hour. Give group members the time to use the restroom, grab a cup of coffee, look at their phones, stretch, etc. in this allotted time. After the break, group members will be refreshed and more focused on the task at hand.
7. Don't invite everyone to the meeting
Only invite group members that have direct relations to the meeting’s core issues and goals. If you want to keep everyone informed, send out an overview email instead. You should even consider declining a meeting invite if you believe that you will not have anything to gain or contribute. Do not attend a meeting just to attend a meeting. Have a purpose and a goal!