By: Suchitra Mishra On: February 4, 2012 In: Business, Career, Leadership, Performance, Productivity Comments: 10


That was a sheer waste of time! How many times have you got out of a meeting or call thinking exactly this? Whether it is sales or business or delivery, we spend a large part of our working lives attending or facilitating group discussions, jumping from one to the other all the while worrying when to get some “actual” work done. Wouldn’t it be great if all meetings could be productive enough to fall into the category of “actual” work?

There are a few simple planning steps that can be taken to ensure that you step out of a meeting or call feeling satisfied instead of frustrated. Here are five reminders on the basics of being organized and prepared for meetings to increase effectiveness and productivity:

Reminder #1: Publish an agenda beforehand – Let the participants know what the goal of the meeting is and what is expected to be accomplished at the end of the meeting before you schedule it. Share relevant data that will prepare the participants on the topic and aid a quick convergence. This will also prevent discussions and debates on new information being presented during the meeting and allow people to be focused on the goal.  As someone wise once said – the Main thing is to keep the Main thing the Main thing!

Reminder #2: Set Time limits and Encourage Punctuality – You don’t want seven people sitting around chatting and waiting for the eighth person to join. Or running out of time before you reach the decision stage of the meeting. Or the delay in having to schedule another meeting to close on the first meeting. Set a time slot and ask people to send their empowered representatives if they will be unable to attend or be delayed in joining. Track and make people aware of the time limits during the meeting so that you stay on schedule.

Reminder #3: Have the setup ready – This is about the tools and infrastructure not letting you down and eating into your meeting time. Do you have enough sitting space for everyone? Do you have the projector or handouts ready? Is the conference bridge working and of good quality? Is it a distraction free zone? Is there enough coffee? Little things matter – you need everyone focused on the discussion.

Reminder #4: Allow everyone to speak – People have been invited to a meeting or call because they are qualified to contribute on the topic. Give everyone time to voice their view points. Nothing is more annoying than trying to make yourself heard in a cacophony of voices. Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking or speak so much that no one else gets a chance to provide their inputs.

Reminder #5: Share Meeting Minutes and Actionables – Summarize on the main points of the meeting just before you conclude. This provides everyone a view of what was accomplished and what is pending and allows for suggestions on next steps. Write these down and circulate among the participants after the meeting. Not only do you get a record of what was discussed for future reference but also a forum to ensure that any pending items get attention for tracking and closure.

What steps do you take make your meetings and calls more productive? I would love to hear back from you.


    • Sybil
    • May 11, 2013

    Thanks for finally talking about >Five Simple Reminders on getting the Best out of your
    Meetings and Conference Calls | Suchitra Mishra <Liked it!

    My personal blog page regarding technology: Sybil

    • Business Operations Performance Metrics: Employee Satisfaction – Five Leadership Tips to Lead Remote Teams with Ease « Happy in the now…
    • May 28, 2012

    […] each other to set the expectations and the pattern.  Mailing lists, weekly one-on-one calls or meetings, chat sessions, social media sharing all help bring people […]

    • Suchitra Mishra
    • February 07, 2012

    Hello Nirav,

    Your list is great and looks like you have a LOT of experience hosting meetings.

    For holding people accountable to actions from last meeting – I usually add a last meeting’s actions status slide right after the current meeting agenda slide. I collect the status before the meeting so we don’t have to spend time on a roll call of inputs in the slot.

    I would love to know more about your lunch/late evening comment 🙂

    Yes, its difficult not to get distracted during meetings (I doodle but that sort of focuses my mind on the discussion) – but its important for all the participants to keep their minds in the meeting and not allow to wander – such a waste of time otherwise.

    Thanks so much for dropping by.

    • Nirav Kanakia
    • February 07, 2012

    Hi Suchitra,

    I agree with you, couple of other items i have noticed that helps me are

    a. provide background with bullet points to attendees — this every one is on ‘literally’ same page

    b. Hold people accountable by using action items from previous meeting being discussed

    c. never plan around lunch time or late evening 🙂

    d. Block some time of day that’s most productive for you for your individual thinking and don’t use for meetings

    e. Don’t check emails on conf call. it may sound like multi tasking, but it’s waste of your own time.

    f. once in a while call out on people (specially on conf call) to make sure they are attending 🙂

    Hope this helps

    • Suchitra Mishra
    • February 06, 2012

    Hello Adhy,

    Thanks for dropping by. I absolutely agree with you on the importance of preparation and follow-up to ensure effectiveness of a meeting. Its all a waste of time otherwise (except for the conversation opportunities, of course).


    • Suchitra Mishra
    • February 06, 2012

    Hello Aman,

    That’s an excellent point. Making sure that the discussion stays on track is very important. I should have added that. Thank you for your inputs,


    • adhyalhosen
    • February 06, 2012

    Yes, this is quite easily one of the biggest challenge that we face on a daily basis at work.

    I should underscore the preparation part before the meeting itself and the follow-up after the meeting.

    The preparation ensures that you cover all your ground during the meeting whereas the discipline follow-up ensures the execution.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Amandeep
    • February 06, 2012

    Very Good post .. Simple and easily implementable

    Another extra point could be- ‘Keeping a close eye on the scope of the discussion’. At times the discussion gets scattered, trespassing the intended scope resulting in the consumption of the major time and also disinterest of few other participants. It’s always important to bring the discussion back on track and no harm in requesting the participants with suggestion that an another call can be setup to discuss aspects which are out of the scope for this particular call (or meeting). So as you mentioned, the circulation of beforehand agenda becomes more critical with extra due diligence on the mapping of scope with the expected outcome of the call.


    • Suchitra Mishra
    • February 05, 2012

    Hello Clive,

    Thank you for dropping by. This week’s topic’s inspiration came from my experiences at work. To get the most out of meetings, we have to be active participants and make sure are well prepared before we participate.
    Loved your point – you are right – no point in having meetings without getting to any decisions. The right people need to be there.


    • Clive Kitchen
    • February 04, 2012

    Really good topic. Wish more people would pay attention to those points.

    1 extra point: invite the correct people to the meeting. If its to discuss something then any parties involved should be invited. If a decision needs to be made, then at least those with the authority to take a decision should be present.



Leave reply: