How to Have More Valuable Meetings

Find out how to use meeting agendas to improve your meeting's efficiency and effectiveness. Plus, get started with a free template.

How to improve the quality of your meetings (and save time)

News outlets often share survey findings on how meetings are deemed unproductive, even a waste of time. As the popular saying goes, most meetings could have been emails instead. One such survey on extraneous meetings found that as many as 46% of employees agreed they had too many meetings. Out of 18-hour monthly meetings, around five could easily be skipped—showcasing its impact on potential productivity. This problem has only been exacerbated by the shift to hybrid workplaces, with more teams hosting video meetings that lead to social burnout.

However, meetings aren’t inherently evil. In businesses, these appointments are necessary to exchange critical information, review progress, and facilitate staff collaboration. Rather than always setting weekly meetings, leaders and managers should thoroughly assess current objectives and needs that may warrant a face-to-face discussion.

By focusing on the quality of business meet-ups rather than the quantity, companies can leave their employees more energized and motivated to get work done. Listed below are some ways how you can have more valuable meetings:

Prepare a meeting agenda template

One of the most critical parts of organizing a meeting is establishing a clear purpose and an agenda for it. For a smooth meeting, it’s important to have actionable objectives that aren’t just broadcasting information, such as product managers working with design and marketing teams.

To keep things consistent across the board, leaders and managers can create a company-wide meeting agenda template, like this one on Collato, ensuring all new tasks connect to existing goals. Share your meeting agenda with invitees at least 24 hours in advance so that they understand the meeting’s coverage and prepare valuable insights ahead of time.

Free Meeting Agenda Template

Cut meeting times in half by using a prepared meeting agenda template. Collato’s free template ensures all meetings and initiatives connect back to company goals.

Example of a meeting agenda template

If you decide to make your own meeting agenda template, here are some items to consider including:

  • Meeting date/time/location
  • Attendees
  • Folllow up from last meeting
  • New business to discuss
  • Notes
  • Next steps
  • Plan timeline

Of course, whatever you include on your meeting agenda template should be relevant to your team and the project at hand. Most importantly, be sure to share the agenda with attendees early enough so that they have adequate time to prepare and you can make decisions quickly.

Clarify participant roles

Meetings are often drawn out by alignment discussions, clarifying ownership, and just figuring out who’s doing what. To prevent this, leaders should make sure that team members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. Once ownership is clarified, progress can be updated asynchronously using tools like Collato.

When meetings are necessary, make sure that there is a designated owner of the meeting–i.e., someone to prepare the meeting agenda. That person should also indicate who is presenting, what decisions need to be made, and what actions will be needed after the meeting. Someone should also be chosen to take the meeting minutes so that attendees can reference back to what was discussed, or those who missed the meeting can be quickly filled in. By setting meeting obligations, leaders can minimize unproductive talk.

Keep participants engaged

Many meetings often fall into the boredom trap when only one person is speaking. If you don’t involve your teams in the conversation, it becomes easy for staff to feel disengaged and unmotivated with work. To make your meetings more fruitful, open up time for discussion by asking open-ended questions. This not only keeps them from zoning out but also becomes an opportunity to encourage people to get their points across.

🍦Sweet tip: People pay more attention when voice tones, speed, and pitch change. Change it up to keep people engaged and paying attention!

It’s also vital that leaders make meetings inclusive. In some sessions, stronger personalities may interrupt or ignore more shy or quiet members. Leading inclusive meetings means you must ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak up without facing harsh judgment. By giving participants a voice, teams can work through different perspectives and ideas that can solve business problems.

Follow up after the meeting

After the meeting, be sure to circulate the meeting minutes and keep them stored and organized with the rest of your team’s important documents and notes. This makes keeping track of different departments’ discussion points and plans much easier. By storing your information on a platform like Collato, you’ll be able to connect your meeting agenda to action points, initiatives, and other relevant documents. Collato also enables cross-tool search, so you and your team can access information instantly.

By making your meeting agenda and notes accessible, you can save time on additional alignment meetings or redundant questions from those who weren’t there. Meetings can be a valuable tool to boost company collaboration and communication. Following our advice can improve your meeting’s efficiency and effectiveness while bringing value to your team.

That meeting could have been a Collato search.

Next time, Collato it. Cut down time spent in endless alignment meetings and answering repetitive questions by connecting your tools and docs in Collato.
Martha Campbell is a freelance writer and editor specializing in leadership and technology topics. She likes cooking and reading science fiction when not working on her next piece.