How to Guarantee Productive Meetings

We’ve all been there, sat in a meeting and at the end walked out feeling like little was achieved. At the end of the day when the children have left school, the last thing you need is a long unproductive meeting when you could have been finishing off some marking or going home.  

This feeling is not uncommon; according to Real Business 40% of office workers said half of the meetings they attended were a waste of time and Management Today reports that across a career the average UK worker spends a year of their life in useless meetings - but it doesn’t have to be this way!

With these quick tips below, we can guarantee that your meetings will be more productive:

1. Always have an objective

It sounds simple but having a clear objective of what you want to achieve will give purpose to the meeting.  Each attendee could try paraphrasing what they hope to achieve at the start of the meeting to keep things on track.

2. Stick to your agenda 

Keep focussed on the objective in hand and try not to go off topic. I know it is hard not to go off on a tangent but you’ll be surprised how much time you’ll save and how much more productive you will be if you stay focussed and stick to the agenda. 

3. Implement Amazon’s “two pizza rule”

In school, of course it's important to stick to weekly team meetings so everyone can catch up on current school issues or important changes. If you find these weekly meetings are increasing and not all attendees are necessary, try the two pizza rule! The CEO of Amazon developed a strategy to reduce meeting times by making sure only the essential people are at each meeting (i.e. never have a meeting where you can’t feed the whole group with 2 pizzas)! You may not get free pizzas at school but the principle is the same – only invite necessary attendees.

4. Leave your laptops and smartphones behind

Studies have found that students who use laptops to make notes find it more difficult to remember what they have learnt during lectures and are less likely to understand ideas; the same goes for work. I often write notes and then type them up afterwards because it helps reinforce my learning. This article describes how the physical act of writing processes information more effectively by stimulating brain cells which allows information to be processed better. So leave your devices at your desk (unless it is absolutely necessary) and make handwritten notes instead. Even the White House implement the no device rule so it must work!

5. Take a walking meeting 

Getting out of the office or staff room for one to one meetings is a great way to incorporate some exercise and help relieve stress. Here’s a list of 5 famous people that swore by walking meetings.

6. Schedule shorter meetings

TED talks have a maximum presentation time of 18 minutes. This is because between 10 and 18 minutes has been deemed the optimum attention span. Perhaps hold a meeting before school starts so you have an incentive to finish on time. 

7. Have an Icebreaker 

Team building exercises help increase motivation and energy levels. These can be as short as 10 minutes and work a treat. For example, my team carried out a team build where they had 7 minutes to build the tallest tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. It was enjoyable and we worked together in teams against the clock. Afterwards, we were ready and raring to go with our meeting which made everyone more productive and in a positive mind set.

8. Prepare beforehand

Prior to the meeting make sure you know the agenda, have completed any actions concluded from the previous meeting and have all meeting documents ready to hand. This will ensure the meeting runs smoothly and effectively. 

9. Recap at the end of the meeting 

At the end of each meeting, have a recap of the main points and ensure you understand any actions moving forward. By recapping this will help you retain information you have been presented with. 


If you are finding your workload unmanageable this article will help you take some control of your work time back. 

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