5 tips for more efficient meetings

Picture this: it’s a Friday afternoon and instead of getting everything finished before the weekend begins, your schedule is booked with meetings. As you listen to a colleague discuss something completely unrelated to the meeting’s topic, your eyes focus on the passing minute hand of the clock—a physical reminder of all the time being wasted—while you wish you had declined the meeting invitation.

If you’ve been trapped in a meeting like this, you’re not alone. According to a white paper published in 1998, the typical American professional attends over 60 meetings each month. At an hour per meeting, that’s 60 hours a month that could be spent focusing on more productive tasks.

Imagine how much more time you could have to focus on things that are actually bringing profit into your company if the meetings you attended were more efficient. What would that do for your business?

If you’re struggling with meetings that don’t bring value to your business, here are 5 tips to make your meetings more efficient.

Ask yourself if you really need to have those meetings

If you could replace those meetings with a few emails or a quick stop by a colleague’s desk, do you really need to have them? A meeting should not be your go-to strategy for every question or concern that you may have.

Create a written agenda

List everything that you would like to discuss at the meeting and create some sort of order to them. If possible, try to order items so that people can arrive late or leave early if they do not want to sit around for parts of a meeting that are not useful for them.

When you’re sending a calendar invite, add the written agenda. This will give the invitees more context on the meeting before they decide to accept or decline the invitation. Agendas allow people to know why they are being gathered and what needs to be accomplished during the meeting time.

Shorten the invite list

Does everyone on your invite list really need to be at the meeting? If you’re inviting people that have nothing to do with the meeting’s agenda, you should reconsider your guest list. According to the Harvard Business Review, bigger meetings are less effective because when meeting sizes are increased, people are less likely to contribute. Aim to limit your meetings to 4-5 key people that will benefit from attending or can contribute to the meeting.

If you’re not sure how to shorten your invite list, apply the ⅔ rule. Take a look at your meeting’s agenda. Can everyone on the invite list contribute to at least two out of three things on your agenda? If not, don’t invite them. 

Stick to the agenda

You took the time to create and distribute an agenda so you might as well use it. Following an agenda during your meeting allows you to use the time more efficiently and stay on task. Sticking to the agenda allows you to respect the time of everyone involved. Avoid going off on tangents or adding things to the meeting agenda at the last minute.

End the meeting with a list of action items

At the end of every meeting, everyone present should be aware of what the next steps are. Everyone should leave the meeting knowing what they need to accomplish. Take the time to write down every action item discussed at the meeting. After the meeting, send a follow-up email that includes any meeting notes and the list of action items.


6 tips for efficient and effective one-on-ones

If you’ve ever had a one-on-one meeting with a supervisor or boss, you might be familiar with how easily these meetings can become stale. It can be tempting to cancel one-on-ones because they begin to feel redundant—especially if everything is going well.

If your one-on-one meetings have begun to feel stale, it’s likely that you’re not using one-on-ones to their full potential. Here are 6 tips to help you have one-on-ones that are efficient and effective uses of your time.

Rethink your one-on-one

One-on-ones are not meant to be a time to discuss daily work or provide status updates. Instead, you should be using the time to discuss things that are higher level: professional development, career goals, feedback, concerns, etc.

Keep the meeting informal

Unless regular meetings, one-on-ones don’t need to follow an agenda or require meeting minutes. In fact, they can actually benefit from having a more informal structure. Instead of crafting an agenda for the meeting, jot down a few things you’d like to discuss.

Keep one-on-ones regular

To get the most out of your one-on-ones, hold them regularly. Try to schedule a recurring block of time at regular intervals. If either of you can’t make it, try to reschedule the meeting instead.

Ask the right questions

Rather than asking yes or no questions, aim to ask questions that are open-ended questions that are thought-provoking. Well-asked questions are important to making one-on-ones meaningful and effective, rather than just another required meeting.

Set goals that are achievable

A successful one-on-one meeting should always end with each party having an action item or two that they can be held accountable for. Aim to each set at least one goal relevant to the things you talked about during the meeting. For example, if an employee is struggling with work-life balance, a good goal might be to spend 15 minutes each day doing something that makes them happy. If they’re eyeing a promotion, have them set small goals that will help them stand out as a candidate.

professional essay writerThe employee shouldn’t be the only one leaving a one-on-one with something to work on. For example, if an employee feels like they aren’t being challenged, their supervisor might want to work on delegating tasks. If the employee feels like their hard work goes unnoticed, their supervisor might set a goal to send two emails each month praising their employees for anything accomplished. One-on-one meetings can help both parties be better at their job.

Remember there is no one-size fits all

What works for one employee might not work for the next. I’ve seen people have really effective one-on-ones sitting across from each other at a busy coffee shop, while some employees feel more comfortable in an office setting. Similarly, some employees prefer one-on-ones with a set agenda of things to discuss and meticulous notes taken. Others prefer to just let the conversation flow.

Don’t feel like you have to have the same one-on-one that your colleagues are having. Find what works best for both of you and stick with it. One-on-ones encourage both the employee and the supervisor to grow. If yours isn’t, don’t be afraid to try different settings and styles until you find one that works best for both of you.