Well intentioned meetings can easily turn into a waste of time without advanced planning and preparation. Get more productivity out of your next meeting with these ten simple tips.

1. Determine If A Meeting Is Necessary

Avoid holding meetings just because. You don’t need to pull people away from their desks for something that can easily be said in an e-mail or with a phone call. Be selective so that when a meeting is called, people know that it's important.

2. Trim The Guest List

Meetings are more productive if they don’t involve too many people. Invite only the individuals that really need to be there. Those who are in a position to contribute valuable insight or make the necessary decisions are key.

3. Distribute The Agenda Before The Meeting Begins

Create a clear and concise agenda of what the meeting will cover and give a copy to every person you expect to attend. Have the agenda clearly state the purpose of the meeting as well as discussion topics and action items. Include the start time as well as the end time so that people know how much time to carve out of their schedules.

4. Start On Time

Begin the meeting on time regardless of whether or not everyone has arrived. If there are any late arrivals resist the urge to waste time getting them caught up on what was missed. Instead, give them an overview of what they missed at the end of the meeting, and encourage them to be timely next time.

5. Keep It Brief

If you schedule an hour meeting, people will want to fill in the hour even if the objectives of the meeting can be accomplished in half the time. Instead of long and boring meetings, make them short and efficient. Let people know how much time they have right at the start and don’t let it run beyond that.

6. Begin With Purpose

Make the objectives of the meeting clear right from the start. Open every meeting by stating what the meeting is supposed to accomplish. Keep it brief, simple, and to the point. Set the tone for the meeting by being focused and concise.

7. Keep Cell Phones Off

Unless it’s absolutely necessary for the success of the meeting, discourage participants from bringing their cell phones. It’s not really surprising that phones often cause non-work and work related distractions that can make it difficult for people to stay fully engaged.

8. Lead Effectively

The facilitator of the meeting needs to take command and lead the discussion in the right direction. When people get off topic, steer them back on track. Control the discussion by not allowing individuals to dominate the conversation. Discourage repetition of items that have already been discussed.

9. Speak Last

As the facilitator you should save your views until the end after everyone has had the opportunity to share their thoughts. If you open the meeting with your own ideas you may be creating a bias and preventing new ideas from being generated. Meetings are more productive when participants speak freely and openly providing their genuine perspectives.

10. Decide On Action Items

Ensure that every meeting results in clear and specific action items. The decisions made at the meeting need to be translated into actionable steps. These need to be assigned to specific people who are responsible and accountable for their results.

Are your meetings maximizing productivity?

Sierra E is a Los-Angeles based trial lawyer and entrepreneur. She became partner at her law firm in 2015 and has made numerous appearances as a guest legal correspondent on CNN. In 2018, Sierra launched SuitKits, an online shopping service that allows women to custom design suits and separates to fit their exact measurements, style, color and cut. Through her career, her writings, and her company, Sierra hopes to help women from all backgrounds achieve both personal and professional success for the benefit of themselves and their families. You can find her on Twitter/Facebook/IG @SuitKits

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