(3) Set a time limit
Its incredibly easy to lose track of time in meetings unless you have a set structure in place to keep you and your attendees focused. Many successful companies set specific time limits for their meetings and incorporate non-negotiable break times at regular, defined intervals to maintain productivity and concentration.
You may also want to consider designating a timekeeper at every meeting to make sure all attendees work towards your time deadline.
(4) Go virtual
Some people still view teleconferences and virtual meetings with trepidation, possibly due to previous bad experiences with technology. But if you’re spending hours travelling to meet clients face-to-face and paying for the cost of travel to do this using a tool like Skype or GoToMeeting to hold a virtual meeting could help dramatically cut that wasted time and save you money.
Just make sure you keep the number of people who join your virtual meeting to a minimum. Two or three people can have a highly productive video call, but any more than that and you’re likely to see diminishing returns as it can be difficult to keep on top of whos talking at any given time.
And always check that your tech is working in advance, otherwise youll end up re-scheduling meetings more often than actually hosting them!
(5) Do something different
If you find that your meetings go on for too long or dont have a lot of energy, you may find it beneficial to mix things up a bit. Rather than a traditional sit-down meeting, you could hold a standing discussion instead. Or if you’re finding that your office environment isnt fostering the right level of creativity or collaboration, it might be a good idea to change your surroundings completely.
OK, so you may not fancy the clich of doing business on the golf course, but an alternate premises or even outside (such as a walking meeting) may be more beneficial than being cooped up in a stuffy meeting room.
Dont be afraid to think outside of the box with your meetings and try to make them a little unusual or exciting. You may just find that this provides the spark you need to boost your productivity.
Ed Molyneux is CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, which provides cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-business owners and their accountants.
Dont miss these lessons from David Brent about what NOT to do in meetings.