How to Make a Meeting Useful & Productive

There is a running joke at my full-time job about my team and I dying a slow and painful death by meetings. It's our way of making light of the fact that most meetings are a huge time suck and mostly a waste of time.

 As it turns out, we are not alone in our aversion to meetings. One-third of Americans recently told pollsters for software firm, Mersive, that they attend 10 or more meetings every week. Another recent poll for Clarizen, also a software firm, found 46 percent would rather get a root canal or go to the Department Motor Vehicles, or do other unpleasant tasks than attend another status meeting. The oft-quoted guestimate is that Americans attend 11 million meetings daily and waste $37 billion.

 Now, don’t get me wrong; meetings are important. However, they need to be structured and planned strategically. For example, in many businesses, people love to schedule meetings in order to discuss another meeting. It's exhausting and anti-productive.

I am no stranger to  back-to-back meetings. If you follow me on Snapchat, you have probably seen them. But throughout my management career and as a biz owner, I've discovered a few methods that ensure a productive meeting in your business.

Schedule Regular Meetings

Try to hold team meetings on the same day and same time each week. This allows team members to block their calendars and prepare for the meeting. Don’t try to schedule future meetings during your meeting. When team members have some free time on their calendar, they’re probably planning to use it to get actual work done. Scheduling a last minute meeting outside of emergency situations just annoys all parties involved.

Prepare an Agenda

Distribute the agenda in advance to give team members time to prepare. It’s difficult to take a meeting seriously when there is no plan for it. A meeting without an agenda almost immediately signifies that you’re about to waste people’s time. It never leaves a good impression when people the person running the meeting is unprepared.

Prepare Yourself

One of the most important traits of a successful manager is people management. Meetings are one of the best ways to connect with your team. Take advantage of it by being prepared with metrics or other data analyses that will help your team make decisions on how to move forward.

Manage Meeting Time

Respect others. Start and end the meeting on time. Manage discussion throughout the meeting, keeping others on task. Nothing can derail a meeting faster than a team member that insists on go off topic or adding unnecessary commentary. Try your best to keep this to a minimum.

Take Minutes

It is important to document project updates and statuses for future reference. The minutes never lie on deadlines and commitments. It’s a great accountable method.

Encourage Participation

Each team member is responsible for project tasks. Ask them to be prepared to share their status updates. This prevents one voice from taking the meeting off track and saves you from being the prominent voice of the entire meeting.

Establish Ground Rules

Let’s all try not to die a slow and painful death by meeting. They are a necessary evil as a manager or supervisor. Let’s make them as productive as possible. Hopefully, your team will rather come to one of your meetings than watch paint dry.  

Send Follow Up E-mail

At the end of each meeting send recap e-mail.

Let’s all try not to die a slow and painful death by meeting. They are a necessary evil as a manager or supervisor. Let’s make them as productive as possible. Hopefully, your team will rather come to one of your meetings than watch paint dry.