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5 Simple Ways to Make Meetings More Productive

5 Simple Ways to Make Meetings More Productive
Too often, meetings waste employees' time. Here's how to make them more productive. / Credit: Doodle bug image via Shutterstock

There is a good chance your staff meetings are wasting your employees' time.

Professionals believe 25 percent of the time they spend in meetings is unproductive, according to a new study from Robert Half Management Resources. Employees feel that leaders make two mistakes most commonly in meetings: not sticking to an agenda and lacking a clear purpose for the gathering.

Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said misguided meetings can do more harm than good.

"An unnecessary or poorly conducted meeting can bring everyone down, because attendees feel like their time is not valued," McDonald said. "Leaders can avoid this situation by clearly establishing the purpose of the discussion, ensuring the right people attend and providing them an opportunity to contribute."

To help leaders get the most out of their meetings, Robert Half Management Resources offers five tips:

  • Review the invite list: Limit attendees to those participants who have a stake in the outcome of items on the agenda. Indicating "required" versus "optional" attendance lets employees know when their participation and input are necessary, and this can help them prioritize their time.
  • Keep on track: Good leaders make the agenda and any supporting materials accessible and publicize them in advance, and ensure that the discussion remains focused. Be prepared to cut off or table any unrelated conversations until a later time.
  • Plan accordingly: For in-person meetings, make sure there are enough seats in the room for everyone. Leave time for setup and pre-meeting technology challenges that may arise.
  • Monitor time: Keep it short and sweet. If a standing meeting is booked for an hour each week, but it usually lasts just 30 minutes, consider rethinking the time allotted. If there's not much to discuss, consider using email or a memo as an alternative to a meeting.
  • Finish strong: If anyone leaves the meeting wondering what the next steps are, you haven't done your job as meeting host. Allow time for people to ask questions, and determine who has responsibility for each follow-up item.

The study was based on surveys of 400 U.S. workers over the age of 18 who were employed in office environments.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.