Meetings make most of us do an eye roll because they’re a dreaded necessity for most businesses. They can be dry, tiring and sometimes ineffective. However, there are ways to make a meeting work well and be more effective.

We’ve put together a few tips to help make your meetings more productive and effective.

1). Have a Clear Objective

To have an effective meeting, you’ll need to have a plan with a clear objective. Otherwise, the meeting will meander this way and that, with no clear goal. Keep everyone on track with a clear goal.

Some people tend to view meeting as a social time; however, they’re meant to be working events. Leaders need to create an agenda well before the meeting starts. Once it’s put together, it can be emailed to attendees, who will then know is taking place during the meeting.

2). Hold the Meeting Outside the Office

Off-site meetings can actually be more productive than those held in the office. A change of scenery can have highly positive effects on mood, energy and creativity.

Consider taking the meeting to a café, a park, a restaurant or even a meeting room in a serviced office facility. Then after the meeting, be sure to follow-up with everyone to see if they enjoyed the change and it is was constructive.

If that particular space didn’t work, then try another. It’s well worth the effort to find a place where everyone feels positive and energized to get work done.

3). Start & End on Time

Starting the meeting on time, rather than waiting for those who are late, will keep the meeting on schedule. Waiting for those who are often late is a waste of everyone else’s time.

When the meeting reaches the time scheduled for ending, then be sure to end right on time. If everyone knows the meeting will end on time, they’ll be more motivated to get work done within the allotted time. In addition, you’re respecting other peoples’ time.

4). Be Prepared

For a successful meeting, it’s important to have everything prepared ahead of time. Make sure everyone has an agenda, which includes the following:

  • List of topics to be covered
  • Description of meeting objective(s)
  • List of attendees
  • List of speakers for each topic
  • Time & location of the meeting
  • Any necessary background information on the topics being covered

5). Invite Fewer People

Sometimes there’s a tendency to invite too many people to the meeting. Not only does this make the meeting space to crowded, it can also mean too many people and loss of time. You may not have the time to achieve the goals of the meeting with too many participants.

Instead, go over the list of those who you want to attend the meeting and cut out those who are absolutely not essential to get things done. By doing this, you’ll find the time will be more productive and you’ll get more done.

6). Consider Holding a Stand-Up Meeting

This type of meeting has become popular in recent years. The reason is that the team becomes more involved when they’re not sitting and dozing. Standing up forces people to be more attentive and collaborative.

Stand-up meetings may not always be practical, and you’ll also need to consider the special needs of those attending. For instance, someone with back trouble may not be able to stand for long periods. Or there may those who have other needs. Keep these in mind when planning this type of meeting and make accommodation for them.

7). Leave Room for Creativity

You want to have participants who are actively involved in the meeting. This the goal, after all. As a result, you’ll need to leave room for energy and creativity in the meeting. Encourage those attending to be involved, and not passive.

For example, one method used by some companies is to include a coloring activity during the meeting. Now, this may seem counterproductive; however, it’s been proven that coloring during a meeting makes people more actively listen and participate.

Be creative when coming up with ideas to keep your staff active and engaged during the meeting. Encourage their participation and you’ll soon see that meetings have become more productive and objectives are followed through.

8). Stay Focused

Meetings can sometimes devolve into yakking sessions, people sharing stories not tied to the meeting agenda, etc. Soon, the meeting is nothing more than a social time.

Keeping the focus is quite challenging, but it is essential if you want the meeting to be successful. It’s sometimes helpful to have a designated person who will bring the focus back to the agenda topics. They can bring the meeting back on track.

9). Avoid Multitasking

Nothing can kill a meeting faster than multitasking. We all tend to multitask, such as checking for messages while someone’s speaking, searching for a necessary item for the business, etc.

This loss in productivity is expensive and time is wasted when a meeting is not effective due to multitasking. To keep participants from multitasking, you can try these methods:

  • Assign roles for the meeting: who will speak? Who will take minutes? Assigning tasks can keep everyone focused on the meeting at hand.
  • Provide a schedule: the agenda is a great way to keep everyone focused. A timed agenda can help.
  • Have a phone/computer parking lot: if everyone has to “park” their devices, they won’t have access to these during the meeting, and will be able maintain focus, rather than multitasking.

10). Keep Meetings Short

We’ve all been to overly long meetings. Think back to you and everyone felt by the end of the meetings. A long meeting can drain people of their energy, focus and creativity. This is especially the case if the meeting falls into their personal time, when they may have other obligations.

Instead, keep meeting to about 52 minutes. Studies have shown this is the optimal time attendees will stay focused and engaged. And certainly, don’t plan a meeting that’s longer than an hour.

Keep meetings short to help everyone stay engaged and you’ll have a very successful meeting.

These are some of the methods you can use to keep meetings focused, full of energy, and more effective.