How to have more productive meetings

Whether you’re the organizer or an attendee, you can get more from every meeting with these helpful tips.

  1. Know the why – If you’re the organizer, set a clear meeting objective and create an agenda. It’s important people know why they’re being asked to come to the meeting so they can arrive prepared and the discussion can stay on track. If you’ve been invited to a meeting, don’t be shy about asking for the meeting’s objective and agenda in advance.
  2. Think carefully about who – Having the right people at a meeting can make all the difference. Invite people selectively, based on their knowledge, skills, and roles. If you get an invitation for a meeting and think you might not be the best person to attend, politely decline and suggest a more appropriate person.
  3. Get creative on the where – Meeting space doesn’t have to consist of the usual conference room or large office. If it’s a one-on-one meeting, consider walking and talking. For larger groups, find a location where everyone has to stand (making it more likely they’ll be engaged, feel confident when speaking, and motivated to reach a conclusion faster) or try an offsite location like a nearby coffee shop where people may feel more free to think outside the box.
  4. Decide how long the meeting should last – If you schedule an hour meeting, it’s likely the discussion will last that long. Shorter meetings can actually be more productive since attendees know they have a limited amount of time to achieve the desired objective. In fact, meeting experts encourage scheduling meetings that last for exactly 22 minutes. If you’re not in charge of scheduling the meeting duration, consider letting the organizer know you can only stay for a certain amount of time.
  5. Get everyone involved – Attendees are more apt to zone out or multi-task if all they’re doing is listening. Skip the long PowerPoint and make the discussion interactive by asking people to come prepared to share something relevant about the meeting’s topic. As an attendee, speak up and ask questions.
  6. Make it clear what the next steps are – Before adjourning the meeting or in a follow-up email, clearly summarize the key decisions and next steps. Be specific — include names, tasks, and deadlines for each follow-up item. If you’re attending a meeting and aren’t clear what happens next, ask!

Sources: Forbes.com, "10 Simple Ways to Have More Productive Meetings;" Regus.com, "How to Have More Productive Meetings;" Cio.com, "Eight Steps to More Effective Meetings."