Take a look around a typical office, and you may conclude that the modern employee attends meetings more than she/he actually works. Although meetings are taking up more and more of our working day, many of us simply aren’t seeing the benefits of this enormous investment. All too often, meetings leave us feeling unengaged, unenlightened and deeply frustrated about the interruption of our work.

Those of us work in organisations spend a lot of our time in meetings. They compete for time on our calendar. Sometimes the time is well spent. We leave the meeting energized with a clear sense of direction or new understanding. We appreciate our teammates and feel a part of a dynamic organisational culture.

Effective communication creates an environment where smart meetings are the norm. Requests and promises to honour those requests, some lively debate and decision making are present and create the momentum to move the needle.

Here are ways to increase the efficiency and improve the results of meeting time:

Make meetings shorter.
Whether you need to tighten up a meeting so you can squeeze it into a crowded schedule, or you need a way to inject some energy into an otherwise sleepy meeting, here are four more strategies for making a meeting shorter:
– Move information gathering and sharing into pre-work.
– Create a more focused agenda.
– Use tight scheduling and strict adherence to timers.
– Make shorter meetings an explicit goal.

Meeting agendas must be carefully designed to be effective.
An effective agenda sets clear expectations for what needs to occur before and during a meeting. It helps team members prepare, allocates time wisely, quickly gets everyone on the same topic, and identifies when the discussion is complete. If problems still occur during the meeting, a well-designed agenda increases the team’s ability to effectively and quickly address them.

For effective meetings aim to invite no more than seven people.
Did you know that the big office meeting is the slacker’s best friend? For those who want to sit back, relax and listen to other people talk, the get-together that’s full of attendees provides ample opportunity to hide. But if you want your team to get ahead, you need to cut those slackers out of your meeting by drastically reducing your invitation list. Although intuition might tell us that meetings benefit from any additional brainpower in the room, science reveals that inviting extra attendees is actually counterproductive.

Traditional meetings are poor at soliciting unique insights from attendees.
Time spent in meetings is constantly increasing. Bad meetings suck the life force out of people, leaving them tired and unhappy at work. Bad meetings also lead to bad decisions, reduced motivation and conflicts. If we really want fun, positive meetings, where all participants can speak their mind, where new ideas are generated and developed and where the time is used as efficiently as possible, we need to go beyond the usual advice and try something slightly weird.

Make your meetings more positive.
When it comes to the meetings you run at work, do you know how to bring out the best in the people attending? Once you have the right people in the room, it appears the secret to an effective meeting may lie in creating the right mood. Yes, you heard me; it’s all about the mood.

In sum…
The typical office meeting is too big and too focused to facilitate great teamwork. To whip your weekly meeting into shape, try making it shorter, more positive and less talkative.