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Take a moment to think about how many meetings you have every day. Then multiply that by a week, a month, a year.

Unless you work alone, meetings can add up to a sizeable chunk of the time you spend at work. Making your meetings as efficient as possible can therefore have a huge impact on overall productivity, both from an individual and business perspective.

These five tips for making meetings more productive may sound simple, but from our experience you’d be amazed at how many businesses fall at the first hurdle, even on the simplest ‘meeting must haves’.

1. Have an agenda

How many meetings have you been in where after five minutes it becomes all too apparent there’s no set reason for being there? It’s just a free-for-all of random things that people want to get off their chests.

Having an agenda is such a simple solution to this problem; a specific list of topics that will be covered in the meeting including how much time will be spent on each. While it sounds like a common sense element to have, you’d be amazed how many meetings don’t run to an agenda.

2. Stand up

Test this one out for a week and see how it affects overall efficiency of meetings, lessening the time you spend in them.

When there is a seat to sit in, it is obviously more comfortable for most people when compared to standing, therefore there is a tendency to drag meetings out as no one feels in a hurry to stand up again.

Stand-up meetings have been proven to cut meeting times down substantially, making people get to the point quicker and wasting less time going off on a tangent. Neal Taparia of Imagine Easy Solutions recently wrote an article on Forbes online stating that having stand-up meetings had cut his company’s meeting times by 25%.

3. Have a timekeeper

You have an agenda, with times allocated for each point or topic; equally important is having a timekeeper to ensure that the agenda is adhered to. Again, ensuring that a formal measure is in place so that time doesn’t run over is a great way to make your meetings more productive.

4. Start on time

Starting meetings five minutes late may not sound like much, but if that meeting has ten people in it then that’s 50 minutes combined time where other work could have been taking place. Multiply that by ten meetings a month and soon enough you’ll have wasted over eight hours in idle time spent awaiting the arrival of all meeting invitees.

5. Have a note taker

Another big timewaster is having a meeting where no one is allocated the task of note taker. Hopefully each individual in the meeting can be relied upon to take proper notes for themselves, but often this can hamper the discussion and problem solving process that you want to promote during meetings.

Having a single person responsible for note taking and distributing follow up tasks when the meeting ends ensures that everyone knows what the next steps are and which tasks they are responsible for.

Bonus tip

The simplest tip of them all – think about whether or not the meeting is even necessary in the first place!

What other pointers would you give to make meetings more productive? We’d love to hear your tips and advice for others to make their meetings more efficient, so please feel free to tweet @Flexioffices on Twitter and we will re-tweet our favourites.
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