4 Ways To Keep Your Meetings On Track

Lots of us attend meetings – some in small groups and others in large groups, with varying frequency. As part of the Better At Work series, this post looks at how to make your meetings more productive and enjoyable – if you have to spend hours each week you might as well make the most out of it!

Four ways to keep your meetings on track image

Block your time

One of the main reasons people don’t like meetings is because they run over time. This tends to be due to lots of time being spent on unimportant things, while the important topics are rushed.

To avoid this fate for your meetings, set specific time limits for each of your agenda items. Defining the point in time when you need a decision can help the group cross an impasse, and make that tough choice.

Review the invite list (and limit if you need!)

To put it simply, so many meetings have so many people in them. Often, you will walk into a meeting room stacked with people that don’t need to be there. It might sound harsh when said out loud (or written on a blog post…) but it is often true.

So, when inviting attendees, make sure everyone there is contributing something to the meeting. Also, if you need a subject matter expert there for a specific item, invite them in for that topic, then excuse them. You shouldn’t be rude about it, just be clear that their expertise was needed for a specific part of the meeting.

Stick to the topic

When talking about a specific topic, it can be easy to get sidetracked. For example, you might call a meeting regarding upcoming publishing deadlines, and get sidetracked discussing vaguely related processes that some of the same people need to know about.

While the discussion might be useful for a few people, if it’s not the meeting topic you’re best to steer clear of it. If you need to talk about that topic, call a separate meeting with all the necessary people. Otherwise, don’t waste the time you’ve set aside for this meeting. Plus, this defeats the purpose of limiting the invite list!

Limit the jokes

Most people want to make the workplace enjoyable as well as productive, and one way to lighten your workday is to share a joke with your colleagues. That being said, having too many jokes in a meeting isn’t a good thing.

Firstly, too many jokes will ruin your focus and slow any progress you are hoping to make on the topic at hand. Much like getting off topic, once you let the jokers effectively take charge of the meeting, the chance of achieving what you set out to do is all but lost.

Secondly, while one or two jokes can bring some (occasionally much needed) lightness to a meeting, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to humour. As long as the jokes are work appropriate, no-one will mind one or two, but expand that to the majority of a meeting – and people will start to wonder why they are there, and not getting on with the rest of their day.

Until next time,


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