9 Tips for More Effective Meetings

11 million meetings happen daily in the US costing employers roughly $3.7 billion. There’s no doubt they’re integral to business operations; however, according to a 2013 Salary.com survey, they’re also the number one thing hurting your office productivity.

“Let’s set up a call for some time later this week.”

This is how it starts. It’s the beginning of something that most likely could have been solved by extending the current discussion or bouncing back a few emails.

But that isn’t what happens.

Instead, you end up in a meeting going in circles, running over time and ultimately accomplishing nothing.

Sound familiar?

It should.

73% of professionals admit to doing unrelated work during meetings and a staggering 39% of people admit to dozing off during a meeting. Not to mention, 63% of meetings take place without a plan. All-in-all, meetings on average cost a staggering $338.

Something needs to change.

I once sat in a four-hour meeting with someone who had flown down to discuss the marketing of a mobile app. The person who we were meeting with told the same story about YouTube four times over the course of the day. Everything discussed in that meeting, including the anecdote about YouTube could have been packed into a 30 minute condensed meeting.

So how can you make your meetings more efficient?

1.Calculate the cost of your meetings

Meetings cost money. Nevermind the opportunity cost of having talent locked into a conference call or in a board room, let’s just look at the hard costs of labor for meeting time. Time is money, and having your time locked up by an unproductive meeting is no good. Calculate the cost of every meeting immediately after the meeting. Seeing this number should prompt you to plan for more concise meetings. If you’re looking for a quick calculator, MeetingKing has a great tool for you to go in and figure out the respective cost of your meeting in a few seconds.

Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

2. Have a set start and stop time

This is easy to say, harder to do. Having a hard start and stop time with meetings puts pressure on attendees to get outcomes, faster. Highly effective meetings start on time; if someone is late, start without them. This will condition the late attendee to be on time moving forward. As for having a hard stop time, make sure to mention it as time approaches. And, when that bell sounds think about it like the end of a high school class – stop what you’re doing, quickly wrap up the meeting and give out action items.

3. Schedule shorter meetings

Meetings should run no longer than 30 minutes. A good way to ensure this happens is to schedule a 25-minute meeting or 20-minute scrum. These time constraints force people to cut the small talk and get to the points at hand.

4. Have a clear agenda sent out before

No plan, no meeting. Seriously. If someone invites you to a meeting, ask for an agenda before the meeting. This should be sent to all attendees so (i) no one is blindsided, (ii) the meeting stays on course and (iii) it finishes on time.

5. Start with results

Starting with results sets the tone for the meeting. It also makes the information transparent at the start of the meeting. After that, get into why things went well or did not go well.

6. Limit attendance

Meetings should be lean. Review who needs to be there and only invite those people. If someone can be briefed afterward, it’s best for them to remain working. Killing staff redundancies in meetings is a great way to shrink attendance and save money.

7. Have a meeting leader/organizer

In highly effective meetings, there is a clear meeting organizer. The organizer’s job is to make sure the meeting stays on schedule and tackles points on the agenda. The organizer should also take any discussion points, which may not be relevant to the meeting, but are interesting and deserve further discussion and parking lot them.


8. Invite people to leave the meeting after their respective contribution is complete

If someone is no longer needed in a meeting, invite them to leave. Having people sitting in on discussions which are irrelevant to their job performance is pointless. This is a great way to save time and money.

9. Make sure attendees walk away with action items

Ensure that attendees have a clear set of action items or next steps to follow after the meeting. This will do two things, (i) give purpose to the meeting and (ii) allow for the results to be discussed in the next meeting (or preferably by email).

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