7 Tips For More Productive Meetings

Are your meetings yawn-inducing?  Are they speed bumps that interrupt weeks that could otherwise be wonderfully productive?  Do you hold meetings just because that’s what you’ve always done?  If you can any of these queries with a yes, then you’ll enjoy using the following tips for getting the most from meetings.
Eliminate Morning Meetings
Morning meetings interrupt what, for most employees, are often the most productive hours of the workday.  Try scheduling meetings for afternoons, instead, but be sure they’re not scheduled right before quitting time – otherwise, you’ll see people looking at their watches rather than focusing on the message you’re conveying.

Stop Holding Meetings in Bland Environments
Where do you hold your meetings?  If you use Skype of Google Hangouts to host meetings, this doesn’t apply; if you tend to meet in a room with four walls and a big conference table, you might want to change your meeting place.  Try scheduling group meetings in comfortable surroundings, and one-on-one meetings in places where both parties can relax.  Many people take “walking” meetings with one another; whether they take place at a local park or just around the building, the fact they take place while you’re in motion means both parties will be stimulated to come up with fresh ideas.  As an added bonus, people are much more likely to share what’s on their minds when they’re not eye to eye with one another.
Eliminate Excess Formality
Meetings that are rigid or overly formal, and meetings in which the leader displays no sense of humor are less productive than those that hold even a slight element of fun.  Breaking up the meeting with a little levity helps to generate greater enthusiasm for the subject matter, plus it keeps people from becoming bored or feeling restless.
Establish Leadership
Meetings need a leader – someone to open and close the meeting, and to keep it on track and well organized.  Establishing leadership within meetings helps keep the group focused and prevents wasted time.
Focus on Strategies, not Setbacks
Setbacks happen.  Learn from them, and move on.  Instead of focusing on problems and difficulties during meeting times, focus on strategies for improvement and on planning for the future.  It’s fine to mention setbacks in passing and to analyze them for learning lessons; just don’t harp on them, and resist any urge to engage in finger pointing.  By using the past as a platform for planning greater success in the future, you’ll propel your team to greater success.
Eliminate “Just Because” Meetings. 
When meetings become useless, time wasting rituals, it’s time to eliminate them.  If you have a weekly sales meeting just because that’s what you’ve always done, consider switching to a monthly sales meeting.  If meetings are just ritualistic get-togethers instead of necessary gatherings, it’s likely that attendees will end up succumbing to boredom.  By reexamining your routine, and holding meetings only when necessary for advancing your organization’s strategies, you’ll end up spending your time much more productively.  When you do have meetings, ensure a specific agenda is in place, and ensure all attendees have the necessary time to prepare.
Remember that Meetings are Not Lectures
Are your meetings often one-way conversations?  Are you using boring presentations instead of encouraging people to interact with one another?  The fact is, people may try to pay attention, but most often end up tuning out when one person is giving a boring lecture.  A mind numbing speech is one of the least effective methods of informing, teaching, or motivating people.  Instead of lecturing, encourage attendees to speak up, make comments, and exchange ideas.  Keep visual aids interesting, and don’t forget to inject a little humor into dry topics to help people stay focused.

Debbie Phillips provides business and entrepreneurship advice at SqueezedBooks.com.  Visit for information on Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Paradox Choice Summary and more.