“Meetings”–it’s a word that strikes dread into the heart of many a corporate employee. But as a business owner, you have the power to make or break meetings for your staff. If you set the tone by choosing to make meetings productive instead of a long-winded waste of time, your employees will thank you for it. Try these workplace productivity tips to optimize your meetings so you can accomplish what needs to be done and get back to work.

  1. Distribute an agenda beforehand. This gives your team a chance to think about relevant topics and make notes on their questions or feedback about them. Agendas also give meetings a structure and keep them moving.
  2. Only invite employees who need to attend. Not every meeting needs to be a company-wide affair. Think about whose input is needed or who needs to hear the updates you’re giving.
  3. Ask people to review any necessary documents before the meeting. When you send out the agenda, also attach any relevant materials, explain what they are, and ask participants to read them. Having everyone arrive at the meeting prepared means no awkward silences as everyone flips through their papers trying to read them on the spot.
  4. Set a pattern of punctuality. If your meeting is at 9, but people trickle in until 9:10, you’ll either have a delayed start or need to waste time recapping for latecomers. Encourage employees to set calendar reminders, or send a “meeting in 15!” reminder email beforehand.
  5. Summarize action points as you go. To keep meetings on track and make sure everyone leaves knowing what to do next, take time between each agenda item to make a note of key decisions, solutions, and next steps. It helps if you have a whiteboard in the meeting room so you can write these down for everyone to see and copy. Otherwise, send an email afterward with a summary of the action points.
  6. Consider what topics truly merit an official meeting, and which are better handled in emails or short conversations. One of the reasons meetings are so disliked is that it often takes an hour to cover petty topics that probably didn’t merit a 10-person gathering in the conference room. Save meetings for important things.

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