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4 Pro-Tips for Productive Meetings

Tcommunicationo a certain extent, meetings are critical for businesses to function: They allow for planning when necessary and the airing of grievances when appropriate. But many employees feel swamped by both the number and length of meetings they have to attend. Here are some tips to keep your employees from burning out on meetings while still having productive gatherings.

1. Always Start on Time

Waiting for stragglers sends two messages. To the stragglers, it says it’s OK to be late to meetings. To the people who showed up as scheduled, it says their time isn’t valuable. Start meetings on time, every time: the stragglers will learn to be more prompt and the already-prompt employees will appreciate the measure.

2. Adopt Shorter Meetings

All people have finite attention spans and mental energy. Respect that by limiting your meetings to one hour at the absolute maximum. In fact, executive-turned-author Al Pittampalli recommends shooting for even shorter meetings: 30 minutes or less is ideal.

3. Have a Brief, Organized Agenda

Nothing frustrates some employees more than being summoned to a meeting, only to hear the leader say, “I don’t really have an agenda today.” Meetings should have purpose; an agenda guides that purpose. Set goals for your meeting, accomplish them, and call the meeting to an end so that people can get back to work.

4. Allow People to Decline

An employee who doesn’t need to be at a meeting or is too busy to attend won’t be a good addition to the meeting. They’ll be bored (if they’re not essential to the meeting) or stressed out (if they’re swamped with other work). Allow people to decline meeting invitations, no questions asked–and if a critical attendee declines, reschedule the meeting.