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The Road to Meeting Productivity: 11 Best Practices for Highly Effective Meetings in 2023

An engaging photo of a diverse group of young professionals gathered in a modern coworking space, actively discussing their next quarter's budget. Their vibrant collaboration exemplifies the effectiveness of efficient meetings.

Meetings - these necessary elements of the work life are far too often seen as productivity pitfalls rather than catalysts for collaboration. According to a Harvard Business Review study, we now spend nearly 23 hours a week in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. This dramatic increase in time commitment underscores the need for meeting efficiency. But how do we ensure our meetings are efficient, productive, and worthwhile? Here, we explore eleven best practices that can transform your meetings into powerful tools for progress.


1. Define a Clear Purpose

Every successful meeting begins with a well-defined purpose. Be clear about what you aim to achieve: decision-making, problem-solving, information-sharing, or brainstorming. A purposeful meeting sets the stage for a focused discussion.

2. Set a Detailed Agenda

A comprehensive agenda is a roadmap for your meeting. It outlines topics to be covered, assigns roles, and allocates time for each discussion point. Distributing the agenda in advance allows participants to prepare, ensuring a more engaging and productive meeting. Adding a virtual meeting assistant like Verbally to your meetings can help in continuously displaying the agenda and time boxes for each meeting point, thus keeping everyone on track.

Screenshot displaying a clear, concise meeting agenda presented in Verbally, the virtual meeting assistant tool. The agenda shows topic-wise time allocations, allowing participants to follow along and manage their contribution effectively.

3. Opt for Unconventional Meeting Durations

Abandon the tradition of rounding meeting times to the nearest half-hour or hour. Instead, try scheduling meetings for 25 or 50 minutes. The slight time reduction not only maintains focus but also affords attendees a few moments to transition between meetings. This approach can be particularly effective in countering the Parkinson's Law, which asserts that work tends to expand to fill the time available for its completion. By offering less time than expected, you can push for more productive discussions and efficient use of time.

4. Keep the Meeting Size Small

A key to meeting efficiency is to limit the number of participants. When it comes to meetings, smaller groups often work best as they ensure focused conversations and active participation from everyone present.

5. Facilitate a Check-In and Outline Next Steps

Start your meeting with a quick check-in to engage everyone from the onset. Towards the end, outline clear next steps, assigning tasks and setting deadlines. This practice ensures that your meeting's momentum carries over into action, reducing the risk of post-meeting email ping-pong.

6. Establish Agreement and Alignment

To make your meetings effective, ensure there is agreement on the meeting's objectives and alignment with broader team or organizational goals. This alignment can drive more meaningful discussions and outcomes.

7. Respect Time and Structure

Maintaining respect for time is a cornerstone of meeting efficiency. Begin and end your meetings on time, and stick to the time allocated for each agenda item. A structured, punctual meeting reduces wastage of time and keeps the conversation focused.

8. Encourage Participation

Active participation leads to more innovative ideas and solutions. Encourage attendees to share their thoughts, ask questions, and engage in the discussion. This can foster an open culture and make meetings more dynamic.

9. Avoid Monologues

Meetings are meant for collaboration, not for one-sided conversations. If the meeting involves only one person speaking, consider sharing a recorded presentation or opting for asynchronous communication. Utilizing a tool like Verbally, which offers a speaker timer, can help to track speaking time and provide soft nudges to avoid monologues, promoting a more balanced and inclusive discussion.

Image displaying the unique feature of Verbally's speaker timer. The timer visually tracks and presents the speaking duration of each participant during a meeting, ensuring balanced discussions and promoting efficient use of meeting time.

10. Experiment with Different Meeting Formats

In an ever-evolving work landscape, relying solely on a single meeting style can lead to decreased enthusiasm and creativity. Diversifying meeting formats introduces new dynamics that can enhance the discussion's effectiveness.

Hybrid Meetings: In the post-pandemic era, hybrid meetings, which combine in-person and virtual participation, have gained traction. They provide the richness of face-to-face interactions while maintaining the flexibility of online platforms. Ensure both in-person and virtual attendees have equal participation opportunities.

Brainstorming Sessions: Instead of strictly adhering to set agenda points, occasionally allow for free-flowing brainstorming sessions. They can foster innovative ideas. For success, foster an open environment where all suggestions are valued.

Silent Meetings: An innovative approach, silent meetings have participants review a document collectively in real-time, leaving comments. After everyone has processed the material, the conversation ensues, ensuring a unified starting point for all.

Using Tech Tools: Implement software like Verbally, a virtual meeting assistant. With features like a time-boxed agenda and speaker timer, it keeps meetings efficient and on track.

Outdoor or Walking Meetings: For a refreshing change, consider outdoor meetings. Walking meetings can boost creative thinking, making them excellent for one-on-ones or intimate team discussions.

Ultimately, the chosen format should resonate with the meeting's intent. Consistently assess the efficiency of your chosen methods and be ready to adapt when necessary.

11. Follow-Up Effectively

Integrating these best practices into your meeting routine can significantly improve efficiency, turning meetings from potential time-wasters into effective instruments of productivity. With the right approach, your meetings can become powerful platforms for innovation, decision-making, and collaboration. Meeting efficiency isn't just about doing things right; it's about doing the right things right. Enhancing meeting efficiency with tools like virtual meeting assistants like Verbally can help navigate this road to improved productivity, making every meeting count.

If You Want to Dive Deeper Into the Topic...

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Trusted partners like Omio, Uber, and DiscoEat effectively utilizing Verbally, the virtual meeting assistant, to enhance their meeting productivity and efficiency.


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