Most people despise attending meetings; some will even go as far as calling in sick on meeting day. So, how can a company ramp up attendance and excitement about meetings, and remain productive at the same time? The daily grind of boring, grey, sleepy meetings that take too long and don’t accomplish anything hurts productivity. The good news is that there are ways that a presenter can have better, more productive, more interesting meetings.

1. Monitor people to be on time — Have them log in before they get to the meeting, and they can log their meeting time without trying to keep up with the time on their own.  (use software to track their time)

2. No cell phones — Some will have a hard time with this, at first. How many times have you been the presenter in a meeting, only to have over half of the attendees leaning over their cell phones, avoiding you? Removing the temptation will be beneficial in the end, as no one will be able to slip their phone under the table to text or level up on Candy Crush.

3. Make it fun — Start the meeting out with a joke or two; add noise makers to the table. When someone wants to speak, they have to click clickers or blow on a whistle. Try setting up prizes for those who attend. Put everyone’s name into a basket, of those who came to the meeting, and pick a name at the end. The prize could be simple, like a gift card for a coffee, but every little incentive counts.

4. Food — Arriving to an early morning meeting, to find no coffee or treats can be a depressing way to start off the day. Anything from coffee and snacks to a full meal can be available during the meeting, depending on the time restraints. Hunger makes people distracted — Feed them.

5. Keep it simple and direct — Rather than starting the meeting by reading the boring agenda, start by greeting people; make it personal by making eye contact and asking about their families. Then, once everyone is seated, with food in hand, clearly state the reason for the meeting. It’s also courteous to mention how long the meeting will take, and what needs to be accomplished. Remember to stay on task; if the meeting is supposed to last for an hour, don’t go over that hour.

6. Accept feedback — If someone tells the presenter that an idea is not working, then change it. Be prepared and open to suggestions on ways to improve meetings from those who are attending. Encourage them to write down their suggestions and hand them to you at the end, and actually read the suggestions. This way everyone can have a say if something is a good idea.

There are many ways to improve meetings — Creative thinking and an open mind will go a long way to improve the way meetings are handled. If you’re an attendee, don’t be afraid to throw something out if it is not working, or add something in. It is possible to be productive and have fun at the same time.