Maximizing Meetings

By Toni Buffa | Published October 3, 2023

Research shows that only 50% of the time spent in meetings is compelling and engaging. So, what is that other 50% being spent on? Unfortunately, half of our meetings are spent with attendees feeling unengaged and as if they wasted their time. While one never plans to run an unproductive meeting, sometimes it happens.

You need to know how to run your meetings effectively in order to maximize them. This starts even before pressing send on that calendar invite. Leaders need to be strategic about these gatherings - who should be involved, how long should the meeting last, and does this even need to be a meeting? These points and others are things to consider, which we will discuss in this article.  

According to a survey from SurveyMonkey, "more than half of workers say their meetings could be improved with two simple fixes: "having an agenda" (54%) and "keeping meetings short" (53%)." Along with these two points, this blog will cover six strategies to help you and your team maximize meetings and get the most out of your scheduled time.

6 Strategies for Running Productive Meetings

Wait... does this need to be a meeting?

Before diving into the strategies for productive meetings, ask yourself, does this need to be a meeting? In the survey from SurveyMonkey, 32% of respondents thought a meeting they recently attended could have been an email.

If a meeting primarily consists of information sharing, it could be emailed. Some examples of this would be scheduling a meeting to give or receive feedback or a status meeting where everything has stayed the same since the last discussion. So, take a moment before sending out an invitation to think if the information you'd like to cover would be better sent as an email.

Now, let's get into the six strategies for maximizing your sessions.

Send Out an Agenda Before the Meeting

A meeting agenda should be sent out before the meeting so your attendees can come prepared for the items you need to discuss. A schedule is also an effective tool to help the facilitator organize the session as it progresses and keep the group on track.

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Start on Time

By starting on time, it honors those who arrived on time and your time as well as a host. Starting on time also allows you to use the allocated time frame to cover the full agenda.

Strategically Choose Attendees

It's crucial to strategically invite only those needed for these in-person or virtual meetings. A report produced by Steven G. Rogelberg, a UNC Charlotte professor, surveyed 632 workers across 20 industries and asked – how many meetings they attend in a week and if they feel like their attendance was critical. Respondents said they didn't need to attend 30% of their invited meetings.

Involve Active Participation

The purpose of a meeting is typically to solve a problem or make decisions. This can be extremely difficult without encouraging active participation. As the host of a meeting, you must promote these open discussions. It is also your responsibility to ensure that your attendees know you are looking to have participation during the session. Typically, people will only speak up if they know it's okay during a call or in-person meeting.

Creating a mind map is an example of a technique that can encourage more participation in your meetings. This technique helps while brainstorming with a team. Mind mapping allows the team to see other colleagues' thoughts and ideas visually, and it's easy for them to add their ideas to the map.

End With Clear Actions

Ensuring participants know what the next steps are ensures everyone is on the same page after gathering. A survey found that only 56% of attendees leave meetings with clear action items. Meetings need to end with clear action items to maximize the time that was just spent together. 

End your meeting by recapping the main points discussed, assigning due dates if necessary, and opening the floor for questions or comments. This will indicate the actions needed from individuals before they depart.

End on Time

Just like starting on time, ending on time is extremely important. Sticking to the end time allocated should keep the team on track to accomplish the agenda. People may have back-to-back meetings and must be on time for the next. Even without a meeting train in your calendar, getting people back to their work promptly ensures you value their time.

These six strategies will allow you as a facilitator to maximize your next meeting and the ones to come. By setting an agenda, starting on time, strategically choosing attendees, involving active participation, ending with clear actions, and ending on time, there will be no doubt your meeting will be a success for all parties involved.  

Productivity Tips  

Toni Buffa

Toni is a member of the Integrify marketing team and writes for the Integrify blog. Toni lives in Colorado and loves animals of all stripes.