Can Your Meetings Be More Productive?


Most companies don’t have meetings just for the sake of having meetings. But they can end up being less productive than you’d like, spending hours discussing things that don’t really matter! Of course, there is some benefit to those sorts of meetings too – they are often good at bringing a team closer together. 

If you are looking to make your meetings more productive, the most important thing is to structure them properly. You don’t want your staff to dread getting meeting invites, or think that the meeting will just be a waste of time! Structuring your meetings will be a lot easier with an agenda, which everyone can refer back to if things start going off the rails. The other crucial element of a productive meeting is having a decision making process.

To help make your meetings more productive, and to save you precious time in the workplace, we’ve explored these things in more detail below:

Meeting Structure

When it comes to structuring your meetings, if you’ve not put any formal plan in place before, this could be quite tricky. It’s not too complicated though – there are simply five basic things to remember:

1. Only Invite Essential Personnel 

Some occasions, such as a company wide announcement, require large meetings. But not every meeting has to include half your staff. For instance, if you’re trying to discuss a particular strategy, having too many people in the room will make the meeting take longer, and it will be less productive. 

You should therefore keep your meetings as small as possible, perhaps encouraging individuals to leave if they don’t think they are adding anything to the discussion. You could also try just inviting team representatives, rather than the whole team.

2. Book at the Right Time

Booking a meeting just before lunch, or right before the end of the day, will mean that people won’t be concentrating fully. They’ll be thinking about what they’re having for lunch, or what their plans are that evening.

It’s thus sensible to carefully consider when the best time for meetings is. There may be all sorts of factors to take into account, such as flexible working hours, remote working, and the day of the week. In terms of the latter, Tuesday is apparently the most productive day of the week, so you don’t want to interrupt people’s workflow by holding a meeting then.

3. Book a Limited Time Slot 

Really consider how long a particular meeting should last. Calendar invites tend to default to 30 or 60 minute time slots, but your meeting may only require ten minutes. Booking a meeting for a specific length of time should prevent wasted time, and means an assurance of efficiency.  

Meetings are expensive. If you take into account the hourly salary of each individual in attendance, any time wasted really adds up. So you don’t want your meetings to run for any 

4. Ban Mobile Phones

Some people are addicted to checking their phones, even in meetings. This not only looks disrespectful to the person leading the meeting, it also reduces productivity. People who keep looking at their phone will probably find it difficult to follow what’s going on in the meeting.

Banning mobile phones, and potentially laptops (excepting the person taking notes) may therefore be a good way to increase productivity in your meetings. Here, you’ll have to lead by example, being the first to hand in your phone at the start of a meeting!

5. Get One Person to Take Notes

Rather than everyone making notes on what’s happening in the meeting, you should have one dedicated note taker. Lots of people writing notes leads to a duplication of effort, and these individuals are more likely to get distracted.

The person taking notes can share them around after the meeting, putting emphasis on any follow-up actions and highlights from the meeting. They could also add links to documents and project folders in their notes, making it easier for everyone to find the relevant information.

Meeting Agenda and Rules

It’s essential that you send round an agenda before every meeting. That way, everyone will know what to expect. And if someone goes off on a tangent, the meeting can be quickly steered back to the topic at hand. 

Your organisation should additionally have defined rules around meetings, to make them more efficient. These rules may include things like always:

  • Giving the meeting a title, to prepare attendees in advance 
  • Providing related information before the meeting, such as documents under discussion
  • Giving goals for the meeting – what do you hope to achieve?
  • Make people aware if there will be a vote or debate about a particular topic
  • Letting everyone know who will be responsible for leading the meeting, and who will be taking notes
  • Make sure that these rules can be seen by everyone in the company, so that there is no ambiguity about future meetings.

    The Decision Making Process

    If you need to make a decision during a meeting, this can really slow things down. To make this a more productive process, it’s good practice to create a decision making framework. This may include:

  • A voting system. Allow everyone to have their say, voting for the option they think is best. You could make the votes anonymous if it’s a contentious topic
  • A deferral process. If a particular decision needs to be considered over a longer period of time, or further research is required, don’t be afraid to defer it. Just make sure you have a firm date to revisit the decision
  • You should also ensure that discussion points are prioritised properly in meetings. Hopefully the leader of the meeting will do this ahead of time. They should also be prepared to step in if a decision can’t be reached. 

    Productive Meeting Culture 

    If you’re looking to have productive meetings every time, it’s your responsibility as a leader to create a culture that supports this. Over time, productivity in meetings will become second nature. In the meantime, make sure you do the following:

  • Create rules for meetings. Discuss these rules with your colleagues, ensuring that everyone’s on the same page. Then, make sure that meeting rules are widely shared, with current and new employees, and posted somewhere visible.
  • Demonstrate the behaviour you want to see. Any meetings that you set up, or even just attend, need to follow the rules you’ve set out. Other leaders in the business must also set an example.
  • Create a template for calendar invites. If there is an easy template, which includes things like an agenda, people are more likely to follow the meeting rules set out for them.
  • Overall, making productivity a cultural norm requires repetition. If you go into every meeting with an agenda, as well as clear rules and expectations, you shouldn’t have any issues. Staff buy-in is also important, though if you’ve hired the right people, they’ll undoubtedly want to make meetings more productive!


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