Whether you’re an employee or a supervisor, very few people have not experienced attending a bad meeting. Indeed, most people view meetings quite negatively and believe they should be done away with entirely, especially when many meetings turn out to be ineffective.

The numbers back this belief up, too.According to studies, ineffective meetings cost organisations an estimated 37 billion dollars a year and take up approximately 15 per cent of a company’s time. But despite how much time and money is dedicated to conducting meetings, most of them tend to be unproductive. In that same study, many executives consider over 67 per cent of all meetings to be failures.

With this data in mind, getting employees together to discuss ideas, overcome challenges, and create meaningful change is harder than it appears at first glance. It’s no wonder that people are constantly searching for new ways to make them more effective, and taking classes on how to conduct smarter, more productive meetings. But before we can figure out how to improve them, it’s important to determine what makes for an unsuccessful meeting first.

What Makes a Meeting Inefficient?

There are several reasons why meetings go awry even before they start. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Using Meetings Only to Exchange Information

Most people default to meetings as a way to exchange information. While face-to-face communication can be useful in some cases, there are also situations where it isn’t strictly necessary. This has led to the common refrain of how most meetings could be replaced by a quick and simple group email.

With this in mind, it’s worth examining your reasons for calling a meeting before booking a room or scheduling it on your calendar. If it will mostly involve one person talking to a disengaged audience, it’s probably more of a presentation than a meeting. Should this be the case, the slides could be better disseminated via email.

The same can be said for quick update meetings. There’s no need to hold a meeting about minor status changes if it means creating a major interruption in the middle of the workday.

Inviting Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

In most cases, having too many persons involved in managing a single activity can ruin it entirely. So,pulling employees into a meeting that do not really need to attend often leads to disastrous results.In addition to lowering that person’s productivity, their opinion may ultimately be irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Starting Late and Letting Meetings Drag On

Time is precious, and no one likes the idea of having theirs wasted. When those in charge of the meeting arrive late, they show a blatant disregard for the time of those who showed up early.

To make things worse, a late start often causes the entire meeting to extend beyond the agreed-upon end time. As a result,many attendees may need to leave the meeting early, or may find themselves drained and irritable, which can hinder productive conversations from occurring at all.

What are the New Rules for More Productive Meetings?

Based on the reasons stated above, a lack of consideration for others is one of the biggest factors when it comes to ineffective meetings. The simple solution, therefore, is to be thoughtful about imposing on others’ time. To do so, here are a few new rules you should follow to make meetings more productive:

Set a Defined Agenda

You lose the room when you ask people to attend but don’t tell them why beforehand.This is where providing an agenda can help, as it provides participants with a clear sense of purpose. It will also keep conversations on track and minimise discussions that could derail from the meeting’s main objective, plus allow attendees to come prepared.

Ensure Active Listening

Making sure that all attendees of the meeting aren’t checked out mentally is no small feat, but it is achievable. Holding meetings at the right time alone can make a huge difference. However,you can always go the extra mile to keep people’s minds from wandering. For example, you can make sure that the temperature in the room is comfortable. You can also provide food and drink to help everyone perk up. You may also want to consider asking attendees to leave their phones and other devices at their desks if they won’t be needing them.

End Meetings with a Plan

Instead of a summary, it’s best to end meetings with a discussion regarding what the team’s next steps should be. This should also include what should be done immediately after the meeting to accomplish whatever objectives have been agreed upon. This gives people a palpable sense of direction even as they’re filing out of the room to get back to their tasks.

Running an effective meeting means doing more than simply sharing information. Done well, meetings should be a space where employees can share their thoughts and collaborate toward achieving a shared goal. So, start establishing clear boundaries about what should constitute a meeting as well as doing what you can to engage your workers. This will ensure that every meeting you set from this day forward will be productive and beneficial.

If you would like to learn more about creating productive meetings, then check out our course Working Smart in Meetings