How to Conduct More Productive Meetings

December 21, 2017

Turn snoozy meetings into engaging collaborations with planning

Information workers are having more meetings than ever—but if you took an anonymous survey in most organisations, the chances are good that employees would say many, if not most, meetings are a waste of time. That is because the average meeting is not well planned and not run in an engaging way that stimulates collaboration and involves all participants.

According to The Muse, middle managers spend 35% of their work time in meetings while executives lose half their day in conference rooms. Yet two-thirds of meetings are failures, as judged by executives.  That is too much collective organisational effort and time down the plughole. If meetings at your organisation seem less-than-inspiring, consider these tips for planning, organising and conducting more productive meetings.

9 tips for creating an engaging meeting

Before we discuss the steps for facilitating a better meeting, let’s insert a precondition. Always ask yourself: ‘do we need to meet about this’? before planning another meeting. Sometimes other forms of communication can be equally effective. If a meeting is necessary, then follow these nine tips to ensure the collaboration produces results:

  1. Invite the right people. Try to limit your attendee list to the most relevant people. Few employees are disappointed if they are not invited to a meeting. Everyone is busy, so there’s no need to involve people without a direct stake in the outcome of the meeting.
  2. Create an agenda. Keep your agenda short, because you also want to keep your meeting short. Write succinct agenda items. Include the agenda in the meeting invitation you email, so participants can determine if the meeting is one they should attend and prepare ahead to make good use of the time.
  3. Always, always start on time. It is very common for meetings to be held up for 5-10 minutes waiting for someone. It is very inconsiderate of participants’ time. Make an organisation-wide rule stating that all internal meetings will begin promptly, and late arrivals are not welcome. Then stick to the rule regardless of who arrives late.
  4. Plan for a short meeting. The ideal meeting is less than 30 minutes long. After 45 minutes, participants begin to lose focus. If your agenda requires a longer meeting, break it into two meetings if possible.
  5. Put mobile devices away or ban them. When someone is reading texts or emails, they are not listening. Nothing disrupts a meeting more than the beeping or ringing of phones.
  6. Ask someone to take notes and keep time. You’ll use the notes to send out a summary later. Ask for a five minute warning before the meeting ends.
  7. Give everyone a chance to participate. Nothing seems more boring and pointless than attending a meeting where no one wants to hear your thoughts and ideas. Get more people participate and collaborate.
  8. End the meeting promptly. Letting meetings run over negatively impacts the participants’ schedules for the rest of the day. After the five minute warning, wrap up the meeting and restate any new objectives or deliverables agreed upon.
  9. Follow up in writing. Your agenda preceded the meeting so that everyone would come prepared. Likewise, you will now fill in the agenda with notes taken during the meeting. Highlight follow-up items that are expected of each participant. Circulate the summary to attendees, as well as those who were unable to attend.

You’ve got a plan for your meeting—now get a room!

There’s one more essential element to planning a more productive meeting, and that is making sure you have reserved the right space to meet. Offer employees several sizes of meeting rooms or private enclaves that can accommodate different sized groups. Asure Software’s Meeting Room Scheduling solutions makes it quick and easy for employees to find and schedule meeting places, using an Outlook integrated, SaaS application from any computer or mobile device.