Meredith Schneider for Hive
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Do you know anyone who enjoys regular meetings? Even before the pandemic, meetings seemed to be the bane of everyone’s existence. They were overscheduled, ran over time and felt – largely – like a complete waste of time. In fact, recent research indicates that executives were spending over half of their workweek — averaging 23 hours per week — in meetings. And that doesn’t even account for your run-of-the-mill, everyday, non-management colleague.

But meetings do not have to be like pulling teeth. They are often necessary, and can be quite enjoyable and productive if handled correctly.

1. Determine the necessity of the meeting.

Before sending a calendar invite out to your team or few colleagues for a get-together, first thing’s first. Determine if the discussion is really worthy of a meeting. If, instead, it can happen more casually between yourself and one or two colleagues, then being aware of that will prevent you from wasting valuable time–for yourself and others.

Is your concern, instead, something you can address during a formal review? Or something you can shoot a quick note via email to a manager about, and then determine the necessity of a scheduled meeting? Is it a Monday? According to research, Mondays are the worst days to schedule a meeting, especially in the morning. Optimal times to consider different types of meetings can be found here.

2. Curate your guest list.

Your meeting isn’t a VIP list or an exclusive opportunity for anyone. Once you have determined that the meeting is, indeed, a necessary commitment, you will want to consider the list of attendees very carefully. In most instances, not everyone will have to be there. Sure, there may be a company-wide update meeting once a month or a quarterly gathering to keep everyone aware of projects they may not be directly involved in, but most of the day-to-day meetings require far fewer hands on deck.

Consider things like how many people are involved and if that means there will effectively be too many cooks in the kitchen. Think about who will actually attend and get the most out of the meeting, or who can actively contribute in productive ways. Make sure personalities will mesh when you can, and try to avoid any guilt invites you may be considering.

Yes, the marketing department will all need to be aware of the campaign particulars in order to carry out their tasks. But this is a concept meeting with creatives, so should you involve more than a couple of department heads? Do you need the client involved if you are just bouncing ideas off of each other? Does the social media team need to work with you if you are still establishing brand colors or guidelines?

3. Keep an agenda.

Planning and sticking to an agenda can help you stay on track during the meeting, so it doesn’t devolve and feel like a waste of anyone’s time. Sending the agenda out to the meeting attendees in advance of the meeting can help them feel better prepared, and allow them to come with any questions or ideas that are relevant to the project or topic.

4. Take notes.

If you are at the helm of the meeting, you may not be able to take any notes past providing initial material. Whether it is you or another colleague, ensure that there is someone designated to jot down notes during the meeting. Then, send them to everyone who was involved with the meeting as well as anyone who could not make it or whose work will somehow be affected by what was addressed during the meeting.

Because you are distributing notes to other parties, typing them is going to be the most efficient and legible way to go about it. Make sure that the person in charge of notes has acute attention to detail, and is focused on the meeting and not other projects. The detail they put into their meeting notes will help drive post-meeting conversations, ideas, workflows and deadlines. Having no minutes from a meeting is almost better than a collection of bullet points that aren’t fleshed out and do not necessarily make sense to anyone other than the person speaking.

5. Give everyone an opportunity to speak.

Every attendee of a meeting is there for a purpose. (This is why we carefully curate the guest list.) Unless someone has been designated to the space specifically to take notes–and they are fully aware of that fact–be prepared to keep space for everyone to contribute something to the meeting. Even if it is scheduled as a presentation, people who are able to contribute or offer praise will feel involved in the project and, potentially, less overwhelmed by it.

6. Be open to feedback.

The best leaders and most productive employees are open to feedback. Good, bad and ugly. Providing your meeting agenda will probably get some of your coworker’s wheels spinning about how to build upon your ideas, brainstorm additional thoughts and the next steps that may be involved with the work at hand. If someone is suggesting a streamlined strategy or an additional layer to your work, allow them to speak their minds. Being open to others’ perspectives is a great tool for collaboration and allows companies to thrive far more than they would without.

If you have scheduled a meeting to give a presentation or lecture to your team or clients, you have to understand that it is still a collaborative process. If there is no time for an open forum at the end of your remarks, be sure to let people know how to contact you in the event that they have a contributing idea or feedback. Allowing people to give feedback shows that you value their opinion and your focus is not the be-all, end-all in the workplace. If nothing else, this certainly drives trust amongst coworkers.

7. Use Hive.

Keep your meeting agenda, notes, attachments and announcements all in one place with the use of our Hive platform. 

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This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.

What’s the no. 1 thing you’d change about your meetings right now to make them better? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!