Meetings are a necessary part of professional life. Most of us have left at least one meeting thinking, “What was the point of that?” To avoid wasting time and resources, make your meetings as productive as possible.

 

Preparation is key

There is a direct correlation between preparation time and meeting productivity, especially in relation to agenda and materials.

 

Inviting the right people

Even the most well-planned meeting will lack productivity if you don’t invite the right participants. When you only invite essential personnel, your meetings will have more significance. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recommends having only 5-7 people in a meeting to avoid groupthink and encourage innovation. Basically, if you can’t feed your meeting with two large pizzas, there are too many people in the meeting.

Timing

Another part of planning the meeting is planning when the meeting will take place and how long it will take. If you’re scheduling meetings back-to-back, allow time to travel from one meeting to the next. No one wants to start a meeting 10 minutes late because the meeting coordinator doesn’t arrive on time. Tardiness wastes your employees’ time, which takes money out of your company’s wallet.

If you schedule a 30-minute meeting, the meeting should be no longer than 30 minutes. If all the items on your agenda get accomplished earlier than expected, there is no reason to keep everyone longer than necessary.

Agendas

Providing members of your meeting with a strong agenda can help them prepare for the meeting in advance. This is especially true for meetings where the participants are expected to conjure ideas and opinions. Forming an agenda and sticking to it can help a meeting run smoothly.

Encourage participation

As the meeting facilitator, it is your duty to ensure the success of the meeting. Even if the sole purpose of the meeting is to provide information, you want to genuinely interact with the members of your meeting regarding the subject at hand.

 

Ditch the PowerPoint and Conference Calls

If you spend the entire meeting reading from a PowerPoint presentation, it will be harder to hold your audience’s attention. You want to structure your meeting in a way that encourages questions and comments so all the meeting members are engaged in the conversation.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 65% of employees on a conference call admit to doing other work. Face-to-face interaction is the best way to get the most of your meetings.

Ask questions

Asking questions to the members of your meeting can help you gauge their opinions, correct miscommunications, and even give you new ideas.

Sometimes, an invited member of your meeting will be an introvert who prefers not to speak unless spoken to. There is a fine line between making someone uncomfortable and encouraging them to participate, but asking a question to a particular group member is fine when you think they may have valuable information to add to the conversation.

Some business people will never enjoy meetings, regardless of how well they are prepared and run. However, new research suggests that 93% of business meetings are deemed as at least somewhat productive. Using these tools, your meetings can be a part of that 93%.