Many companies have gotten into the habit of scheduling an unnecessary number of meetings with their employees, leading to employee frustration and irritation. In addition to unhappy employees, there has been an abundance of research showing that most meetings are a productivity killer! So how you make meetings more productive? Follow these tips:

 1. Create a “parking lot”

Employees can become frustrated when conversations begin to trail away from the original agenda of the meeting. This leads to a lot of meetings running over their scheduled times, causing annoyance and stress among employees. What would a great leader do to prevent this common occurrence? Create a list of “parking lot” topics as the meeting is in session. If something comes up during a meeting that is an important issue or valid point, but just not relevant to the current agenda, write it down so you can schedule a follow-up time to discuss it. For example, if a meeting has been scheduled to discuss hiring new distributors, don’t let the conversation turn to the results of a recent business-to-consumer marketing campaign. Let employees know that you’re acknowledging the importance of that issue, but it’s not the time or the place to discuss it.

2. Be mindful when scheduling

As much as you would like to think that your employees are 100% tuned into everything you have to say at all times during the workweek, you’re wrong. Monday morning is the unofficial designated time to catch up on whatever emails came through over the weekend, and plan for the remainder of the week. Scheduling a meeting during this time means you’ll have employees with a lot on their mind, not paying close attention to what you’re discussing. The same goes for Friday afternoons, where people are more concerned with wrapping up for the day in order to get out of the office at a reasonable time. If possible, try to schedule meetings for the middle of the week, and never do it during a lunch hour!

3. Leave the laptops

We’ve all been in meetings where the distracting click click clack sound of typing has caused us to lose focus of what’s being presented. Make it a blanket rule in the office to leave laptops behind when attending a meeting. Not only will this prevent people from searching the web or checking emails, it’s also been proven that taking notes with a pen and paper is more effective!

4. Weekly meetings don’t have to be weekly

It’s not uncommon to have a weekly meeting scheduled on your employees’ calendar, whether it’s a one-on-one check-in or a team meeting to discuss upcoming projects. However, it’s important to note that there will not always be updates or items to discuss on a weekly basis, and whenever that is the case, give your employees time back in their day by canceling for the week. Even though the meeting is automatically scheduled to occur every week, it’s not set in stone! Be respectful of your time, and your employees’ time and only meet when necessary.

5. Be prepared for technical issues.

Hosting a meeting that requires a PowerPoint presentation or audio conference? It’s your responsibility to plan ahead for technical disasters. Get to the meeting room before your meeting is scheduled to begin, and work out any issues with the equipment. Don’t wait until the scheduled start time to get everything plugged in and up on the screen, while your employees sit around twiddling their thumbs. It’s the little details like this that lead to employee frustration with the number of meetings on their calendar.

What are your secrets to keeping meetings effective and productive for employees? Tell us in the comments below!

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