If you feel like most meetings are a waste of time, it’s because you’re doing them wrong.

Here are 6 hacks to make sure every meeting you spend your time at is leaving you energized.

PRO TIP: Read the follow-up post ‘3 Hacks to Cut Your Meeting Time in Half

1. Schedule meetings for half as long as they need to be

Meetings tend to last as long as they’re blocked off in your calendar for. This causes a lot of 30-minute meetings to take 60 minutes because you’ve scheduled them as 60-minute meetings.

You’ll find that people ramble, politic, and get off-track when they know they have time to do so. Make your meetings half as long as they need to be and be amazed at how swiftly your meetings will move along.

2. Start with the most important agenda items first

I’m amazed at how often teams will start with the agenda items that are the easiest, require the least amount of time, or just move top to bottom down a list, rather than tackling the most important issues first.

Structure your agenda and issues list so that if you run out of time, you’re not left with your most important agenda items or issues unresolved.

Additionally, you’ll find that when you create clarity and solutions around the most important issues, the less important issues often times will be resolved automatically, thus saving time discussing those issues altogether.

3. Don’t waste meeting time with updates

Too many meetings become a platform to provide updates, that could easily be done by email or Slack.

The person providing the update will be forced to spend more time crafting the email than they would to simply present it to the group in a meeting, but it will save the rest of the group time.

If the update also requires a discussion, add the discussion to the agenda, but expect that the update has already been sent, and each participant has already read the update prior to the meeting.

In addition to the time savings, you’ll find that these discussions are far more productive when the whole team is not hearing the update for the first time right before a discussion or decision needs to be made.

4. Rewrite agenda items as desired outcomes

When you’re forced to think about each agenda item as a specific outcome, you’ll have far more productive meetings.

For instance:

  • ‘KPI Reporting’ could be rewritten as ‘Review KPI’s to identify any potential issues or discussion topics’
  • ‘Project Roadmap’ could be rewritten as ‘Set clear priorities and goals for next 30 days for Project ‘X’’
  • ‘Finance Update’ could be rewritten as ‘Understand previous months finances and budget for next month”

Doing this will help to focus your discussion around your desired outcomes instead and will keep you on track.

Before moving onto the next agenda item, ask yourself ‘Did/do we [insert agenda outcome]?’

5. Don’t allow technology in your meetings

Technology is distracting. Period. It’s distracting to the person using it, and to the rest of the room who doesn’t know what you’re doing.

If you NEED a device to share a presentation, follow along with an agenda, or take notes, make sure that device is shared on a big screen for the whole room to see. This will prevent anyone from checking their email while they’re pretending to take notes.

Additionally, if you make everyone check their phones and computers at the door, you’ll find everyone wanting to keep meetings short so they can get back to their devices quicker.

For Zoom meetings, require all attendees to have video on them. Otherwise, you can bet they’re multitasking during your meeting and aren’t as engaged as they should be.

6. Have a meeting moderator and a meeting secretary

For meetings with 3 or more people, assign a meeting moderator and a meeting secretary.

The meeting moderator is responsible for keeping the meeting on time and task. They need to redirect discussions back to the desired outcomes when they get off track or start to lose momentum and make sure issues are fully resolved with clarity before moving on.

The secretary is responsible for taking all meeting minutes and notes, including action items to be taken after the meeting. These should be sent to each meeting participant after the meeting. This will prevent each person from having to make personal notes for discussions or action items and will keep the meeting moving.

These two roles should be clearly identified and respected during every meeting.

Doing these 6 things at every future meeting will leave you feeling much more productive in meetings, and will give you a lot more time back to do everything you’re planning for in your meetings.