Plan better meetings with these strategies.

There are no escaping meetings. Despite the negative connotation often associated with meetings, we need them; they’re essential to successful business. Therefore, we need effective meeting strategies to make them as productive and lucrative as possible. In this article we’ll address four pro-level strategies to take your meetings to the next level:

  1. How to set a strategic agenda
  2. Holding space for buffer time with your team
  3. The necessity to express gratitude
  4. How to end the meeting with a call to action

How many business meetings do you think you’ll attend in this lifetime? On average, over 11 million meetings are held during one typical workday, according to an MIT study. That’s a substantial number, especially when the majority of people feel that most of those meetings are a waste of time. In a survey of over 200 senior executives from varying backgrounds conducted by the Harvard Business Review, only 17% of respondents reported that their meetings are generally productive uses of the company’s and individuals’ time. Say what?!

Company meeting

The same study found that 54% of respondents said most of their meetings are held too frequently, are poorly timed, and insufficiently run. This leads to lower productivity and collaboration, which negatively affects the well-being of companies and individuals–the exact opposite of what makes a successful meeting.

How can you ensure your meetings are stimulating, inclusive, and profitable? The following strategies can help you fine-tune focus, increase productivity, and create a more inviting environment for your next meeting–a win, win for business and employee success!

1. Set a strategic agenda

“If I don’t have an agenda in front of me, I walk out,” Annette Catino, chief executive of the QualCare Alliance Network, told the New York Times in an interview. “Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there, because if I don’t know why we’re in the meeting, then there’s no reason for a meeting.”

A well-structured road map that outlines the start time, meeting duration, end time, and clearly defined topics that will be discussed is imperative to the smooth running of a meeting. It not only informs all attendees what to expect, but it also will serve as a guide for you to navigate the meeting’s happenings and stay on track. Every minute matters, for holding people’s attention, optimizing productivity, and respecting the time of the company and each attendee present.

Think of it this way: a meeting is a direct reflection of a company’s culture. Do you expect people to be accountable and show up on time, ready to share their best selves with the group and contribute to the company? Then you should demonstrate the same standards in each meeting you hold. Set reasonable timeframes and stick to them. Define a clear purpose for the meeting and only discuss topics that are relevant and necessary. No one likes sitting through a meeting that feels like a waste of time, money, resources, or brainpower. Make it intentional; make it count.

Team meeting

2. Hold space for buffer time

With so many varying schedules and wandering headspaces, not everyone shows up to a meeting in the same place. For example, some people may be rushing from one session to the next, unable to quiet the busy chatter in their heads, and experiencing brain fog because of it. Others may be fresher, having better focus and energy to contribute to group discussion. Setting aside even five minutes at the beginning of the meeting for a period of restoration and centered concentration can have a significant impact on group performance and collaboration.

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Five minutes at the beginning of a meeting for restoration can have a significant impact on group performance.

Practicing mindfulness through group meditation is one option. Once attendees have found their seats, you can play a short guided meditation for the group. They only need to close their eyes and listen. Five minutes meditating is all that’s necessary to experience a decrease in stress levels, according to a MedCrave study: clearer minds, clearer focus, better performance.

“I think of mindfulness as the ability not to be yanked around by your own emotions,” Dan Harris, the author of “10 Percent Happier,” told The New York Times. “That can have a big impact on how you are in the workplace.”

Company meeting in meeting space

3. Express gratitude

Just as important as the content being discussed in the meeting is the well-being of all the attendees present. After all, a company is only as good as the employees that keep it running. Using a group gathering as a time to express sincere gratitude for everyone’s efforts and dedication can have a tremendous effect on the team dynamic and individual performance.

When people feel appreciated and that they are a meaningful part of a group, they are more inclined to give their best day in and day out.

When people feel appreciated and that they are a meaningful part of a group, they are more inclined to give their best day in and day out. A study by Glassdoor found that 81% of surveyed respondents felt more motivated to work harder after their bosses expressed appreciation for their efforts. Tell your team what they’ve done or are doing well, with no catch other than to genuinely thank them. Show them some love, and it will return tenfold.

Group discussion
Small group discussion

Ensure that there is a real expectation of what needs to be done, by when, and by who–task individuals and groups with duties before everyone leaves the room.

4. End with a call to action

What good is the time spent during a meeting if the decided upon plan of action falls flat? Summarize the content discussed at the end of the meeting to refresh the group and plan the next steps. This includes reviewing deadlines and who is responsible for what. Ensure that there is a real expectation of what needs to be done, by when, and by who–task individuals and groups with duties before everyone leaves the room. This helps to keep the ball rolling and holds everyone accountable to get the job done; do the work in the meeting, not after. Then follow up to keep productivity levels high.

Which of these strategies can you combine and use to clean up your meetings and maximize success? The tighter and more constructive they are, the more productive and beneficial they can be for business and employee contentment. With companies spending about 15% of their collective time in meetings, according to a study conducted by Bain & Company, practicing a healthy meeting protocol is a pivotal factor of achievement.

Still need help building a better meeting? Bring in a professional facilitator from Voltage Control.

Voltage Control designs and facilitates innovation training, Design Sprints, and design thinking workshops. Please reach out to us at if you want to talk.

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