For various reasons, business meetings are not something that team members usually look forward too. However, they are essential to keeping a company running smoothly, especially during difficult times, like now, where a company strategy is ever changing. Many teams may be conducting their meetings online, but still need to value each other’s time to ensure meetings are productive and meaningful. Meetings are the best time for everyone to align their goals, make crucial decisions, and resolve any conflicts.

But if these meetings aren’t conducted properly, they can quickly turn into a waste of time. This is especially wasteful when they involve a large number of attendees. The more people in attendance, the more work hours are being wasted. And that means more money going down the drain.

That’s why it’s imperative to learn how to conduct more productive meetings. That said, you may want to learn about some of the most common meeting mistakes and what you can do to avoid them:

1. Not Setting a Clear Purpose or Agenda

This is arguably one of the worst mistakes and the first red flag that can immediately tell others that the meeting is unnecessary. With the many project management tools available today, you can completely eliminate the need for a status report meeting. And if the meeting simply intends to iron out a few quick details, you may find that a quick e-mail or private message may be enough to get the job done.

How to Avoid This Meeting Mistake:

Before you send out a calendar invite to your team, ask yourself: what is the purpose of the meeting? If you can’t come up with a clear and specific agenda, then you may not actually need to hold a meeting in the first place.

2. Not Assigning a Meeting Facilitator

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a meeting where everyone is talking over each other. It’s even worse when certain people start going off on tangents. Without a structure in place, the conversation is bound to be filled with irrelevant chatter and before long, everyone will end up leaving the room without accomplishing anything productive.

How to Avoid This Meeting Mistake:

Before the meeting begins, it’s a good idea to assign one person to facilitate it. They will be tasked with making sure that all the participants are keeping to the agenda, bringing the discussion back on-topic whenever it goes astray. It’s also up to them to ask people to expand on any important topics that may need further discussion.

3. Dragging the Meeting Out Unnecessarily

Have you ever been in a meeting where you were forced to stay in the room until the designated end time, even if you’ve already accomplished the agenda?This common mistake has to do with people focusing too much on the time allotted for the meeting. They often feel like they aren’t making the most of the time slot and feel a need to fill it up to justify keeping people away from their work desks.

How to Avoid This Meeting Mistake:

A more efficient way of going about it would be to focus on the number of tasks that have to be accomplished instead. Set up a timer that’s clearly visible for all of the participants or ask someone to give a five-minute warning before the designated end time. If you’re not able to finish discussing something within the allotted time, offer to continue the conversation through e-mail in the meantime. Encourage everyone to prepare any necessary materials or thoughts before the meeting so that you can hit the ground running and perhaps even end the discussion early. And if you finish early, simply wrap up the meeting instead of filling it with irrelevant topics.

These are only a few of the most common mistakes that people make when conducting business meetings. The good news is that all of these can be avoided with proper planning and preparation. Just keep the tips in this article in mind. Before you know it, conducting more efficient meetings one will become easier with time.