6 Suggestions to Make Meetings More Productive

by Townes Haas
9/26/2014 10:24:17 AM

How to Hold Meetings that Attendees Actually Find Useful

Everyone hates meetings. The reason for that is simple: Most meetings are boring, unproductive time-wasters. They pull people away from what they work they should be doing to listen to some talking head ramble on – often on subjects that have no relevance to many people in the room.

Yet, meetings still exist for a reason. They’re supposed to be a time to get caught up on news from the organization or what other team members are working on and may need help with. Meetings should be useful. Here are some tips to ensure that the next company meeting isn’t just another time-suck.

1. Have an agenda – and stick to it! One of the reasons why so many meetings go off track has to do with not pre-planning. It’s not sticking to what was supposed to be discussed. Meeting organizers should plan ahead and put together a comprehensive agenda. The items on the agenda should be discussed first. If Schedule time at the end of your agenda to discuss other items that come up during the meeting there’s time at the end, additional items can be discussed. Always send the agenda to everyone ahead of time.This provides time for people to think about what’s going to be discussed and to come prepared to answer questions or add to the discussion.

2. Keep the meeting small. While many people may feel that they have to invite everyone to meetings, don’t! According to the “Rule of 7”, “once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, adding an additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%. As a result, large groups rarely make any important decisions.” This means that larger meetings are usually ineffective.

3. Shoot for 30 minutes. People are busy. They don’t have time for 60 to 90 minute meetings. Plus, most people start zoning out after 45 minutes or so. Meetings can be kept to 20 to 30 minutes, which is usually enough time to discuss any major topics. If the meeting is starting to run long, end it. Add another 30 minute meeting about the subjects not covered.

4. Track what was accomplished in the meeting. And that doesn’t mean taking attendance, which often comes across as demeaning or condescending to employees. Write down every important decision that was made in the meeting. While some meetings (i.e. brainstorming sessions or reviewing quarterly reports) may not result in major decisions, those should be few and far between. If every meeting doesn’t result in action items, then most of them should be eliminated.

5. Ensure that the meeting is run by an organized person. It’s common for the a director or VP to run meetings. But oftentimes, these aren’t the right people. They can be disorganized or long-winded. Instead, one person who’s extremely organized and authoritative should be put in charge. Executive assistants make excellent meeting organizers and timers: They are good at ending conversation on one topic and ushering in the next.

6. Don’t have meetings to just have meetings. It’s tempting to have meetings about every little item of discussion. But think about this: Can the question or task that needs addressing be handled some other way, i.e. email, phone call, etc.? If so, then skip the meeting. Also, meetings aren’t great always the best forum for creating business plans or strategy documents. They are good for getting input from the larger group and brainstorming new ideas.


Meetings can be extremely effective tools if used correctly. The number one rule is don’t waste employees’ or colleagues’ time. People need time to work, and meetings too often keep them away from doing just that.

Additional Resources to Help Grow your Small Business

White Paper

How Mail Services Help Entrepreneurs Succeed

In today's mobile economy, digital entrepreneurs often work from varying locations. While this can help save money and increase agility, it comes with one big drawback:

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Assistants Provide a Competitive Edge

Countless small business owners rely on remote assistants or offsite receptionists to help with critical organizational duties. While some are content to offload simple tasks to self-employed, stay-at-home support people, others demand more comprehensive services...NULL

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Assistants & Remote Assistants: A Comparison

While the traditional virtual assistant is likely to work from home, an executive-level virtual assistant is part of a greater brick-and-mortar presence. This fundamental difference opens the door for extensive training opportunities that broaden the professional's support capabilities.

Read More >
White Paper

Overview of Virtual Offices, Executive Suites and Co-Working Spaces

Work has changed. In an age of instant communication, cloud-based applications, and workplace versatility, the era of the traditional office culture has come to an end. Providers of virtual offices, executive suites and co-working spaces have effectively liberated the nation’s work culture, adding dynamic and energizing new choices...

Read More >
White Paper

Part 1 of 4: Introducing the SBA

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, navigating the tricky terrain of creating a sound business plan, forecasting for growth and developing an operative growth strategy can be a major challenge. Fortunately, American entrepreneurs and operators have access to one of the most effective resources in the worldwide market...

Read More >
White Paper

Part 2 of 4: Starting a Small Business

Navigating the complex terrain of creating a sound business plan, forecasting for growth and developing an operative growth strategy can be a challenge for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Fortunately, American entrepreneurs have access to one of the most effective resources in the world via the Small Business Administration (SBA).
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Part 3 of 4: Managing a Small Business

Congratulations! You have gotten your small business up and running. Now what? This part of our four-part series on leveraging the Small Business Administration to help you launch and manage a small business will focus on the operational aspects of running a business. Whether you need leadership strategies, day-to-day decision making skills
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Part 4 of 4: Marketing, Sales and Contracting

Understanding marketing and sales as well as the technical complexity of our Internet-driven society gives entrepreneurs a distinct advantage over the competition. This final segment of our four-part report will take a deeper dive into the logistics and philosophy of marketing and sales and their impact on your business success.
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

DIY Marketing Tools

If a business isn’t marketing, its potential customers are not finding it. Small to medium size businesses often struggle with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing. New DIY marketing tools, however, have eliminated the need to spend astronomical amounts on online and traditional marketing. These tools
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Office for Legal Professionals

Law firms (large and small) and solo legal practitioners alike can use virtual office services and spaces to run their entire legal operations or as a supplement to a home office or traditional brick-and-mortar offices. Virtual office services can be particularly useful during trial preparation
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Finance & Tax Professionals

Finance and tax professionals, whether they work solo or as part of a larger firm, can use virtual office spaces and services to stay on top of their workloads, especially during the busy tax season. Professional virtual office spaces can be particularly useful when back-to-back client meetings are necessary...

Read More >
White Paper

Traveling Entrepreneur

As business people and entrepreneurs continually strive to grow their business, doing so frequently involves traveling around the country to attend networking or tradeshow events, meeting clients and prospects on their own turf, and getting some face-time with colleagues, contractors or employees who may operate in a remote location. Preparation
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Office Eguide

Have you ever wondered why some small businesses are successful and others are not and what do these successful companies do to gain an edge over their competition? Through our years of experience
... Click to read more

Read More >