You are having the best nap ever. Then you open your eyes to the sound of your co-worker’s voice droning on about the latest company update.
Plot twist — you’re the manager, and this is your meeting. Now imagine what this meeting feels like to your employees.
No one likes to have their time wasted. Try these eight tips to help you and your team stay engaged and productive at your next meeting.
1. Decide Whether You Really Need to Have a Meeting
Productive meetings are an asset to you and your employees. They are vital when you need to create plans, come up with solutions, or get feedback to make decisions.
But that’s when meetings go well. The evidence shows that there are a lot of employees who experience the opposite — and the statistics prove it.
Harvard Business Review surveyed a group of senior managers and found that more than half said that meetings stopped them from completing their work. Even more dismaying, a whopping 71% of executives labeled meetings as “unproductive.”
So before you summon your employees to your next meeting, ask yourself whether you really need to have that meeting. It may be more effective to send an email. If you need feedback, consider using a project management platform or a communication app as an alternative to meeting face-to-face. Your employees will thank you for it.
2. Set an Agenda
There is nothing more frustrating than attending a meeting and having no idea why you are there. As a manager, you have to specify what your meeting is about and why you need certain people to attend.
Would you go on a road trip without a destination in mind and no map to guide you? If the thought makes you queasy, a similar feeling may occur if you don’t create a meeting agenda.
An agenda is a must-have for all meetings. When you list the topics you want to cover, you can ensure the necessary conversations happen. An agenda helps you hone in on what needs to be discussed and veer away from unrelated questions and comments.
You’ll earn kudos if you distribute the agenda to your attendees a few days before your meeting. Having the agenda ahead of time gives them time to read it and be ready to fully participate in the meeting.
3. Recognize That Less Is More
Two scenarios can occur when you cram too many items on your agenda. Scenario A: You go over your time limit and steal the time of others. Scenario B: You rush to fit everything in your time limit and skim over important details.
Neither helps you host a productive meeting.
If you like your meetings brief yet thorough, limit the topics on your agenda to five or fewer. Also, see what can be discussed before or after the meeting through emails, small group meetings, or chat discussions.
4. Keep Things Short
In 1955, Cyril Parkinson, a British naval historian, asserted that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” According to this axiom, you should still be able to get everything done even if meetings are shorter.
So why not make them shorter?
You don’t have to default to 30 minutes or one-hour blocks just because that’s what your calendar settings have available. A 20- or 40-minute meeting with a focused agenda can be equally as effective.
There are several tactics that can help keep your meetings short and succinct. Try using a timer. It will make people conscious of the need to present within time limits and ultimately ensure meetings end on schedule. Another method is to have a standing meeting. Research has shown that sit-down meetings are 34% longer than stand-up ones, so reduce the length of yours by getting off your bum.
5. Limit Meeting Size
Only send a meeting invite to employees who really need to be there. If people know they are selected for a reason, there’s a higher chance they will bring good ideas to pitch. You can also have team members opt to come for a particular section instead of sitting through an entire meeting.
At the same time, you want to make sure no one feels left out. Employees who are not invited should still be updated. You can accomplish this by encouraging them to communicate their ideas or feedback through chat, email, or even 1:1 meetings.
6. Ask Questions at the Beginning of the Meeting
For many meetings, it’s common to save the questions until the end. But a more efficient way to conduct your meeting is to ask everyone to write questions at the beginning.
During the meeting, review submitted questions to see if any of them have been answered previously. If there are still more questions, answer them as you go along, when the relevant topic is already under discussion. That will take less time than revisiting a separate list of questions at the end.
7. Schedule Meetings on a Tuesday Afternoon
It sounds counterintuitive, but the best time to have a meeting is not a Monday morning. Typically, people return on Monday mornings ready to dig into their task list. Scheduling meetings can disrupt your employees’ day, leaving them frustrated if they are not able to complete their work.
Instead, a study by YouCanBookMe reveals that having a meeting on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m is the best option. Neither too early in the week nor too late, a Tuesday afternoon meeting is ideal. It gives your employees time to prepare, and it doesn’t stymie their Monday-morning, back-to-it energy.
8. Encourage Everyone’s Participation
You want your meetings to be a positive space where all opinions matter. Let your employees know at every meeting that all participation is welcomed.
If you want to spur more engagement in your meetings, start by asking questions and encouraging your team to offer solutions. You can make it fun by having the team vote on the proposals and offering rewards for the top-ranked suggestions.
Make Your Meetings Valuable to Honor Your Employees’ Time
The bottom line is that employees aren’t reluctant to attend meetings — they just don’t want to attend bad meetings. By implementing these tips, it can help make your meetings valuable and productive for your entire team.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.