There’s no denying that meetings have a history of being boring, time consuming and counterproductive…but they don’t have to be.  With a little effort and input, you can make meetings both productive and stimulating for everyone involved.

#1 Consider The Timelines

When establishing a routine meeting, consult others for their preferred meeting times and attempt to make a global accommodation. Explain your motivation when prompting people for their preferences; you’re asking because during meetings you want each employee to be as active and collaborative as possible.

Whether morning meetings are too early or after-lunch meetings make members feel sluggish- employees who feel heard will reciprocate their appreciation.  Voicing opinions makes people feel more invested in the upcoming meetings and more accountable when it comes to being an engaged participant.

#2 Brief and Blank Them

Give your listeners a reason to care by taking the time to explain why the subject being addressed is important enough to require a meeting. Get member’s ideas flowing by sending out a bulleted agenda as early as possible.

In addition to providing a copy of the meeting’s agenda, also provide blank spaces for details that will be defined during the meeting. (For example, leave room to fill in confirmed deadlines or designated team leaders, etc.)  By displaying blank space, people will make the connection that they should be doing more than just listening in.

#3 Ask For Input

Simply explaining your desire for cross communication and brainstorming will not do the trick; people first need to feel comfortable enough to collaborate.  Their willingness will be in direct correlation to your leadership tactics.

If you want people to contribute, you’re going to have to foster a supportive, open forum where the only types of criticisms made are constructive ones that people can build upon.

Portion out a section of the meeting specifically for comments so others know their voices are encouraged.  While you are being considerate of the time frame, also remember to be patient with your approach, afford people the opportunity to raise a hand and have the floor.

#4 Shake Things Up

If you want meeting members to slip into a snooze, then by all means keep the formula of every meeting exactly the same.  However, if you want your meetings to have a little zip, then you’ve got to zest things up.

Assign some participants to head certain topics/portions of meetings.  Open with a short, inspirational video to spawn some creative thinking.  Brand each meeting with a theme or schedule outside guest speakers to spark interests and insight.  No matter what you do, by switching up the normal routine you’ll keep participants on their toes.

#5 Follow-Up and Give Thanks

You can’t expect everyone to be on their A-game during every single meeting, some time might be required for stellar suggestions to form.  Request that members send a follow up email (by the end of the day, end of the week) that highlights any new ideas inspired by the meeting.  Show that you value their input by using their responses as jumping off points for your next meeting.

Obviously you should thank all of your staff for their contributions at the meeting’s close, but take the time to mention particular participants by name in recognition of their extended efforts.  This type of acknowledgment gives active employees a boost, while lighting a fire under everyone else within earshot.

What rules do you follow to make meetings productive?

8 more tips to avoid wasting time at meetings: Waste Time at Meetings? Try These 8 Meeting Management Tips

Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook