6 Foolproof Hacks for Shorter, More Productive Meetings

by James McDonald on January 19, 2017

Despite everyone’s best efforts, many meetings veer off track like a runaway train, leaving annoyed team members who must schedule yet another meeting to accomplish everything that was supposed to be handled in the first. 6 Foolproof Hacks for Shorter, More Productive Meetings

While inefficient meetings are frustrating, well-run meetings are an excellent opportunity for both local and remote employees to connect and share ideas that can have a big impact on the organization.

So how can both employees and supervisors work to ensure meetings are shorter and more productive? Here are six foolproof hacks to make meetings better for everyone in 2017.

Opt for standing or walking meetings1.Get on your feet.

Many office workers are opting for standing desks to increase their individual productivity—a tactic that can also work to improve meeting productivity. A 2014 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science showed keeping all participants on their feet cuts down on tendencies to daydream or lose focus.

If you’re meeting with a small group, you may even consider taking your meeting on the go and choosing to walk around a nearby park. This added movement can help promote innovation and spur new ideas.

2. Reframe your agenda.

More than simply having an agenda for your meeting, you need to make sure you have a thorough and properly framed agenda.

In addition to sending out the proposed agenda well ahead of the meeting time, supervisors can also try listing topics as questions to get the discussion started. For example, instead of writing, “Conference Locations” as the topic, try writing, “Where should we hold the next conference?” This small tweak in language can make a big difference in meeting engagement.

3. Keep it short. Really short.

Packing an agenda for an hour-long meeting with a full 60 minutes worth of topics means the items toward the second half of your meeting are likely to be either rushed through or eliminated entirely.

Instead, try having 15- to 20-minute meetings that cover fewer topics and keep everyone on track for the full time period. In fact, research shows that 18 minutes may be the attention span sweet spot.

Try to  have less than 10 people in your meetings4. Cut back the invite list.

Nothing will derail the productivity of a meeting faster than having too many unnecessary voices competing for attention. Reduce the attendee list to only key players and aim for no more than 10 people at one meeting.

5. Make your meeting spaces work for you.

Just like workspaces, the design and layout of a meeting space can contribute to productivity. If you think your meeting space may be holding you back, it could be time to gather some insight into what about your space is working and what needs to change. Plus, a fresh, redesigned meeting space can help keep your team motivated.

6. Don’t be afraid to set a timer.

If you want shorter, more productive meetings, make the time limit non-negotiable. Supervisors can even go so far as to set an official timer at the start of a meeting with the understanding that the meeting will end as soon as the timer goes off.

A timer also can be utilized during the meeting to keep topic discussions on track. For instance, in a 20-minute meeting, a timer can be set for five- to eight-minute increments for each topic that needs to be covered to ensure every issue is addressed.

Meetings often get a bad rap, but with some small changes, your in-office conferences can be engaging, effective tools for collaboration. The management team just needs to make sure they’re formatting meetings and meeting spaces to support these goals.

To learn more about how to maximize your meeting space, download our free eBook, The Great Workplace Space Race.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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