Meetings are an inevitable part of most workplace life, but too often they are a source of giving you the snoozes instead of the information and direction you need to make work more productive. When in charge of a meeting, however, you can impact circumstances so you and your employees get much more out of them. Follow these three rules of thumb on directing a meeting, and you’ll always leave feeling productive!

Keep Them Shorter

The biggest problem work meetings encounter is their tendency to run long. It’s hard to get all the information a presenter needs to give in a short time, and time for comments and questions is rarely taken into account. The best practices for work meetings, however, will tell you that scheduling in an equal amount of time for group discussion and interaction with the amount of time giving information will help employees to feel active and involved in what’s going on. Generally, shorter meetings encourage productivity, and invigorate instead of exhausting those who attend them.

Discuss Problem Solving

Talk about using the time to discuss problem solving in the workplace. A great way to actually make work meetings useful for a business is to make sure they’re a place for problem solving, not just reports. Two heads are always better than one—plus, presenting problems to employees encourages them to practice problem-solving behavior, which will all around improve the workplace. You can use a quality circle to make adjustments to how tasks are performed, or simply divide employees into separate groups according to topics that need problem-solving.

Make an Action Plan

The last and perhaps most important way to use work meetings effectively is to make sure you come away with something to do. Simply hearing information does not mean it is processed, and discussing problems does not mean they will get solved. Using the SMART process of setting goals—that is, making sure they’re specific, measured, achievable, realistic, and time-bound—will go a long way in making your meetings productive. Following up on them in the next meeting is also a great way to make sure plans are becoming reality!

Inevitably, you may still have a boring meeting or two. There is nothing stopping you from making your workplace look forward to coming together in different contexts if they know the meeting will have a clear, helpful purpose. You can be much more productive just by tweaking a few things about your next meeting!

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