20 Ways to Make Meetings More Efficient In The Workplace

Does your team hate meetings? If so, they’re certainly not alone!

Time-wasting meetings are one of the biggest complaints in the business world. 47 percent of respondents to an Atlassian poll complained that meetings are the top time-waster in their workday. According to the National Statistics Council, 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings.

Meetings are vital for promoting collaboration and alignment within teams. They serve as a platform for sharing ideas, making decisions, and addressing challenges collectively. 

Managers mostly hold meetings with their teams to provide updates, set goals, and strategize on projects, making sure everyone is on the same page and working towards common objectives. 

Common complaints about meetings include, 

  • their tendency to be unproductive, 
  • time-consuming, 
  • and lacking clear objectives, often leading to frustration among participants.

Effective meetings in hybrid and remote work settings are essential for maintaining communication, building rapport, and ensuring remote team members feel included and engaged. 

Inefficient meetings can hinder decision-making by wasting time and diverting attention from key issues, leading to delayed actions and missed opportunities. 

Addressing inefficient meetings involves,

What Is An Effective and Successful Meeting?

An effective meeting gets things done on time and productively. It includes active participation from everyone, clear sharing of ideas, and outcomes like decisions, action plans, or problem-solving.

Good meetings have clear agendas, focused discussions, and valuable input from all attendees. They focus on teamwork, involvement, and making sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Additionally, effective meetings start and end on time, reduce distractions, and use time wisely.

In the end, an effective meeting helps make progress, supports teamwork, and creates positive results for both individuals and the organization.

How Does Time Management Play Role in Productive Meetings?

Importance Of Time Management

To make meetings effective, it’s important to manage time well. Here’s how you can do it,

  1. Have a clear plan for what will be discussed in the meeting.
  2. Schedule meetings and stick to the schedule by giving each topic a specific amount of time.
  3. Start on time and encourage everyone to be punctual.
  4. Keep discussions focused and avoid going off-topic.
  5. Take brief notes and avoid talking about things not related to the main topics.

By doing these things, you’ll make sure meetings are productive and don’t take up more time than necessary.

Video Meeting Vs. Physical Meeting | The Difference

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There are two main types of meetings: Physical and Video meetings. Here are the key differences.

AspectVideo MeetingPhysical Meeting
InteractionIn video meetings, participants primarily interact online, resulting in less face-to-face interaction.Physical meetings allow for direct face-to-face interaction, promoting deeper engagement among participants.
CommunicationCommunication in video meetings occurs through screens, utilizing video and audio channels.In-person meetings involve direct communication, allowing participants to convey messages through both words and body language.
EngagementVideo meetings may suffer from distractions, leading to reduced engagement among participants.Physical meetings tend to be more engaging as fewer distractions enable participants to focus on the agenda.
FlexibilityVideo meetings allow anyone to join remotely from any location with internet access. In-person meetings require all participants to be present in the same physical location, limiting flexibility.
LogisticsVideo meetings require minimal logistical planning, only necessitating internet connectivity. Physical meetings involve logistical arrangements such as venue booking, parking lot, and travel arrangements.
TechnologyThe success of video meetings depends heavily on internet connectivity and the functionality of online platforms like Zoom or any other project management tools.Physical meetings rely less on technology and follow a more traditional format.
EnvironmentThe environment of video meetings depends on the setup at participants’ homes or offices.Physical meetings are held in designated rooms, providing a structured and professional atmosphere.
EffectivenessVideo meetings can be effective if managed properly, ensuring smooth communication despite the virtual setting.The effectiveness of physical meetings is influenced by factors such as the meeting room setup and how the meeting is conducted.

What is the Cost of Ineffective Meeting?

Payroll Cost

1. Waste of Time

Meetings that don’t achieve much waste people’s time that could be spent on important tasks, making work less efficient.

2. Low Team Morale

Attending meetings that don’t achieve anything can make team members feel unmotivated and uninterested, affecting their performance.

3. Missed Opportunities

When meetings don’t solve problems or make decisions on time, opportunities for growth and new ideas are missed.

4. Financial Loss

Wasting time in meetings that don’t achieve anything costs the organization money because employees are paid for that time, and potential revenue opportunities are missed.

5. Less Creativity

When meetings are unproductive, it’s harder for team members to be creative and work together, which slows down the creation of new ideas and solutions.

6. Negative Company Culture

Having many unproductive meetings can create a bad atmosphere at work, where people feel frustrated, negative, and not engaged.

Ask Yourself Some Questions Before You Setup Any Meeting?

Let’s discuss which questions you should ask yourself before setting up meetings.

1. Is This Meeting Necessary?

Before scheduling meetings, ask yourself if it’s needed. 

Could you achieve the same goals through emails, quick chats, or updates on platforms like Slack? 

If the primary purpose is just to share information without much discussion, consider if there’s a more efficient way to do it. 

Also, think about whether the meeting fits with your overall business objectives and if the benefits outweigh the time and effort everyone will put in.

2. What is the Agenda of This Meeting?

Before every meeting, create a clear plan called an agenda. This plan shows what topics will be discussed, purpose of the meeting, and what you want to achieve. 

Keep the agenda brief and on track, putting the most important things first. Share it with everyone beforehand so they can get ready and participate well.

3.  What Will Everyone’s Role?

Before the meeting begins, ensure everyone knows what they should do. Give each person a specific job based on their strengths and involvement in the topics. 

For example, have one person lead the discussion, another take notes, and anyone else needed to keep things running smoothly. This way, everyone knows their role and can contribute effectively.

How To Make Your Meetings More Productive?

Make Meetings More Efficient

When you run meetings, consider the following aspects to enhance the productivity of your meeting.

1. Define Meeting Objective

It’s essential to establish a clear purpose and objectives beforehand to make sure a meeting goes well. 

Clearly defining the meeting’s purpose – whether it’s a brainstorming session, decision-making, or providing updates – helps everyone understand what to expect and prepares them accordingly. 

By outlining goals and stating the purpose at the start of the meeting, all attendees can stay focused and on track throughout the discussion.

2. Set a Meeting Agenda

First, make a clear plan with topics and time limits to make your meeting more organized and productive. Share this plan with everyone before the meeting so they know what to expect. If the discussion starts to stray from the plan, go back to it to stay focused. 

You can also ask different people to lead discussions or share information to keep things orderly. By sticking to the plan, you’ll avoid getting sidetracked and make the most of everyone’s time.

3. Right People For the Right Meeting

Only invite people who need to be at the meeting. This helps keep the conversation on track and avoids irrelevant topics. Choosing the right people as decision-makers makes it easier and helps everyone get more done.

4. Start on Time

Starting meetings promptly is important because it helps them go smoothly and shows respect for everyone’s time. Waiting for latecomers can be annoying and mess up the flow of the meeting. 

Coming early and getting things ready before the meeting starts ensures it begins on time. This encourages everyone to be on time and keeps the conversation focused. Reminding people about the importance of being punctual can also be useful. 

By starting on time, we can ensure we have enough time to discuss everything on the agenda and make the most of our meeting time.

5. Experiment & Try New Ideas

Try different ways of running meetings to keep everyone interested and excited. For example, you can try doing fun activities or using new tools to work together. 

Trying new things can make meetings more lively and help people come up with new ideas.

6. Find The Right Environment

Workspace Environment

Choose a helpful environment for your meeting, whether a physical conference room or a virtual workspace and create a safe space for everyone.

Make sure the space is free from distractions and equipped with the necessary technology. A suitable environment promotes focus and enhances communication.

7. Everyone Keep Written Notes

Encourage all participants to take written notes during the meeting to capture key points, action items, and decisions. 

Written notes serve as a valuable reference for follow-up and ensure that important information is documented accurately.

8. Cover Important Items First

Arrange the meeting topics from most to least important. Start with the most critical ones to make sure they get enough focus and decisions can be made quickly. 

Spend more time on important topics and be ready to save less urgent ones for later talks if needed. By tackling important items first, you avoid missing essential issues and keep the meeting moving smoothly.

9. Write Down Your Team Questions

Encourage team members to write down any questions or worries they have during the meeting instead of interrupting the conversation. 

Gather these questions and answer them either at the end of the meeting or later on. This helps everyone stay on track and ensures all questions are answered well. Moreover, ask employees to take meeting notes to discuss later.

By asking for written questions, you make discussions more organized and productive.

11. Keep Meeting According to Time Zone

Time Zone

When planning meetings with people from different places, think about their own time to prevent problems. 

Use tools that show many time zones or find a time that works for everyone. Being mindful of time zones includes everyone and helps everyone join in.

12. Talk About ROI Despite Cost

Discuss the return on investment (ROI) of each meeting to justify its cost in terms of time and resources. 

Highlight how the meeting’s outcomes contribute to achieving business objectives or generating value. Highlighting ROI encourages efficiency and ensures that meetings align with strategic goals.

13. Define Your Objectives and Outcomes

Clearly state what you want to achieve in the next meeting and explain how it fits with the goals of the organization. 

Share these goals with everyone before the meeting so they know what to expect and why it’s important. By setting clear goals, we make sure the discussion stays on track and the meeting serves a specific purpose.

14. Lead By Example

Team Lead Skills

As a meeting organizer or facilitator, lead by example by showing active participation, attentiveness, and respect for others’ opinions. 

Set the tone for a collaborative and inclusive meeting environment. Your behavior influences the engagement and productivity of participants.

15. Share Relevant Documents After the Meeting

After the meeting, send everyone the important documents, to-do lists, and notes. This will help everyone know what was decided and what they need to do. 

Moreover, summarize the meeting takeaways and share them with team leaders and attendees. This will ensure meeting participants know what’s going on and help us keep track of progress.

16. Reduce The Number Of Meetings

Decide if you need to keep having regular meetings, and consider combining or eliminating ones that aren’t very useful. 

Try using emails or teamwork apps for simple updates or talks instead. Having fewer meetings gives you more time to concentrate on tasks and helps you not feel too tired from too many meetings.

17. Try to Finish Early

Use meeting time wisely by keeping it brief and on track. If you finish discussing everything on the agenda early, end the meeting sooner. 

Stick to the main topics, don’t get sidetracked, and ask everyone to keep their comments short and to the point. By ending discussions quickly, you give everyone more time for other tasks, which helps them get more done and respects their schedules.

18. Embrace Different Opinions

Establish a workplace where different viewpoints are appreciated, and discussions are helpful. Welcome disagreements as chances to generate new ideas and solve problems. 

Build a setting where everyone’s opinions matter and are treated with respect, which leads to better decision-making.

19. Do Follow-Up Actions

Assign clear action items with deadlines and responsible parties at the end of the meeting. Follow up on progress and provide support or resources as needed to ensure accountability. 

Effective follow-up actions translate meeting discussions into tangible outcomes and drive results.

20. Ask for Team Feedback

Employee Feedback

Once your team meeting wraps up, ask your team how it went. Find out if they thought it was useful or if it dragged on too long. Their suggestions could help make future meetings better. Also, consider whether some messages could be shared through a quick chat or email instead of a full meeting.

You can gather feedback through surveys or discussions to see what worked well and what didn’t in the meeting. This helps improve how meetings are run in the future. By listening to your team, you can make sure meetings are more effective and enjoyable for everyone.

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Top 5 Best Practices For Video Meetings

After the pandemic, video conferencing is the most used method. Here are the best practices for conducting video meetings.

1. Short Meetings – Time Saved

Keep video meetings concise to save time for all participants. Shorter meetings encourage focused discussions and prevent participants from feeling stressed or disengaged. 

Aim to cover essential topics efficiently, allowing everyone to return to their tasks promptly. Set clear agendas and stick to allotted time slots to maximize productivity and respect attendees’ schedules.

2. No Of Attendees for Decision Making

Keep video meetings small, especially for important decisions. Having fewer people helps everyone communicate better and make decisions faster. 

Send a meeting invite only to the most important people who need to be there or who can give useful advice. This results in productive meetings.

3. Pay Attention to Your Appearance

During video meetings, looking professional is essential to show credibility and respectability. Wear appropriate dress for the meeting and your company’s style. 

Make sure you look neat, and pick a well-lit spot so everyone can see you clearly. Your look shows professionalism and can affect how people see your ideas and credibility in the meeting.

4. Eye Contact is Important

To connect better during video meetings, look directly at the camera to show you’re paying attention and genuinely interested. 

This builds trust and makes others feel comfortable. Stay focused on the screen to show you’re listening and participating actively. Good eye contact makes communication better and helps conversations feel more real in online meetings.

5. Give Everyone a Chance to Speak

Encourage everyone to join in during video meetings to hear and appreciate different viewpoints. Make sure each person gets a chance to share their thoughts by asking for feedback on the meeting topics. 

Use methods like taking turns to talk or going around the group to ensure everyone, including introverts, gets a chance to speak up. Creating an environment where everyone feels included helps us work together better and strengthens our team during virtual meetings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the essential agenda items for a great meeting?

Essential agenda items for a great meeting include a clear purpose, expected outcomes, and a structured timeline. Start with a quick check-in to set the tone, followed by a review of previous action items. Include time for discussion and decision-making, and assign a note-taker to capture key points. Conclude with a summary of decisions and next steps.

How can I keep meetings on track and avoid tangents?

To keep meetings on track and avoid tangents, establish ground rules at the beginning. Use a whiteboard or shared document to visually display the agenda and keep participants focused. Encourage the note-taker to record any off-topic points for discussion at a later time. Additionally, referring to resources like the Harvard Business Review can provide strategies for maintaining focus.

What is a good template for one-on-one meetings?

A good template for one-on-one meetings includes sections for a brief check in, reviewing progress on goals, discussing any challenges or concerns, and planning next steps. Customize the template based on individual needs and use tools like LinkedIn to find examples from industry leaders. Regular one-on-one sessions ensure continuous alignment and personal development.

How can I make weekly meetings more efficient?

To make weekly meetings more efficient, start with a consistent structure. Begin with reviewing key metrics or updates, discuss any pressing issues, and end with a clear action plan. Assign a person to document decisions and action items. Listening to a relevant podcast can also provide fresh ideas for improving meeting efficiency.

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Final Thoughts,

Making meetings more efficient isn’t just about saving time; it’s about getting the most out of everyone’s efforts. Here are some simple steps to make your meetings better, 

  1. Set Clear Goals: Know what you want to achieve in the meeting.
  2. Create Organized Agendas: Make a list of topics to cover, in order.
  3. Invite the Right People: Only include those who need to be there.
  4. Start on Time: Begin the meeting promptly.
  5. Try New Ideas: Be open to different ways of running meetings.
  6. Find a Good Environment: Choose a place where people can focus and be creative.
  7. Encourage Note-Taking: Have people write down important points.
  8. Focus on Key Topics: Spend most of the time on the most important issues.
  9. Answer Team Questions: Make sure everyone’s questions are addressed.
  10. Respect Time Zones: If you have team members in different locations, consider their local times.
  11. Emphasize ROI (Return on Investment): Show how the meeting is worth the time and effort.
  12. Seek Input: Ask for everyone’s ideas and opinions.
  13. Commit to Action: Make sure to follow through on decisions made during the meeting.

These simple steps can turn your meetings into dynamic sessions that drive progress and teamwork, especially for small businesses.