Many people often complain that the biggest waste of their time at work is spent attending office meetings.  We’ve all been there: working against a project deadline, talking a client through a crucial moment of a sale, or just waste deep in the minutia of daily responsibilities when you realize you have an office meeting scheduled in 10 minutes.   Whether you are leading your company’s next business meeting or simply participating as an attendee, the regularly scheduled office meeting can seem like a hindrance to your productivity rather than a help.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, armed with the right tools, you can make them worth the time and energy they require.

Before you even begin meeting planning, ask yourself if it is truly essential. Don’t meet just to meet. Does everyone in the office need to attend or can you accomplish your goal through an inter-office email?  Consider the cost to the company of calling this meeting.  Using a tool like, you can easily calculate the real cost of the meeting to help determine if it is absolutely necessary.  You may decide that your objective can be achieved without calling the meeting or by having an online meeting. However, if you decide that a physical meeting is necessary, the following tips can assist you in conducting a more effective one. 


Start and end meetings on time

Make sure that everyone knows what time the meeting will begin and just as importantly when it is scheduled to end. Then stick to the schedule. Start on time – Don’t wait for latecomers. You should also refrain from bringing those who arrive late up to speed on what was discussed prior to their arrival as this wastes time and penalizes those who were on time.  This is just good office management.  If you are tempted to think that a few extra minutes wasted in a meeting don’t really add up to much, you can see the actual cost per minute of the meeting using  Remember that effective meetings start and end on time.

Invite the right people

Make certain that list of attendees are people who have something to contribute or otherwise absolutely need to be involved in the meeting.  Likewise, don’t be tempted to invite people just because they are at a certain level in the company. One of the rules of leadership is to never waste anyone’s time, and busy people appreciate your respect of their time.  

Create an agenda and distribute it before the meeting

Creating an agenda and delivering it to the participants in advance will give them the opportunity to prepare their input for the meeting. Always state the objective of the meeting at its start to help keep everyone focused on achieving that goal.  Make sure that the objective is measurable, something that you can work toward during the meeting.

Summarize and stop on time

If you have discussed all the items on the agenda before the allotted time, by all means stop the meeting.  You can use to determine how much money you will be saving by ending the meeting early.  Don’t be tempted to begin a discussion about something else; save new topics for your next meeting.  Make sure to summarize and record action items from the meeting and assign responsible parties for each item when appropriate.  If you follow these suggestions, you will be able to facilitate effective business meetings with productive outcomes.

Anna Mueller has many years of experience in Organizational Development and is considered an expert in the use of business technology in improving corporate change.
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