Workplace meetings have a reputation of being a minor, yet necessary inconvenience. Although, that doesn’t mean meetings can’t be improved upon and made less annoying and more productive. With the following tips and tricks, you can approach your meetings differently and get the most out of them.

One way to make meetings more productive is by entering them with a concrete plan, instead of just winging it If you don’t know what you want to discuss, you’ll be wasting not just your own time, but the time of your employees as you sort out your thoughts. One way to help with this is to create an outline of the meeting’s agenda. This can be as simple as a bulleted list and it helps when everybody attending the meeting has a copy (even a digital copy via email would work).

When preparing the meeting agenda, it’s good to objectively look it over and ask yourself if the topics at hand are even worth meeting about. One of the worst ways that meetings kill productivity is when meetings only take place for the sake of meetings (“but this is what we do every Monday!”). Therefore, having an agenda beforehand provides ample opportunity to evaluate the meeting’s purpose so you can cancel if need be and save your organization a ton of time. For example, one question you can ask yourself is, “Would the point of the meeting be achieved if I instead emailed the agenda to everyone?”

Additional questions to consider when creating your agenda are:

  • What purpose does your meeting have?
  • What is the end goal?
  • Are you meeting to establish an initiative’s timeframe?
  • Are you resolving an issue?
  • Are you brainstorming your next project?

At the very least, going through these questions will add clarity as to what exactly the meeting is about.

Once you’ve assembled everybody around the table, you’re next going to want to establish meeting protocols in order to minimize distractions and keep everyone on task. Here are some suggestions:

  • Discourage the use of mobile devices at meetings (unless they’re needed).
  • Try having people stand instead of sitting. Standing is healthier and it will make people antsy enough that they’ll think twice about wasting time with ridiculous questions and comments.
  • Make use of visual aids, like presentation software.

Finally, your skills and strategy as a presenter can make a world of difference in terms of the efficiency of your meetings. When leading a meeting, try enhancing your presentation in these ways:

  • Use humor sparingly–in such a way that it engages the audience without distracting them.
  • Be concise and try not to ramble on.
  • Avoid filler words like “um,” “uh,” and “well.”
  • Convey authority by being decisive.
  • Just be yourself!

Time permitting, one way you can finetune your presentation is by practicing it ahead of time, perhaps by recording it or by going over it with a trusted friend or colleague.

If you apply these tips and practices to your next meeting, you should start to see major improvements with how it’s run. Who knows, it may even make meetings (dare we say it) enjoyable.

Do you have any tips or tricks to running meetings? Share them with us in the comments below.