This story appears in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur.
We asked readers: How do you make the most of everyone’s least favorite work routine? Here’s what they had to say.
1. Plan ahead. Set the agenda one week ahead of time. Allow employees to comment on it prior to the meeting so they have time to really think about it — and then stick to the agenda. — T.J. Allan, owner, Ageless Fitness, Gillespie, Ill.
2. Be holistic. We use the principles of sociocracy to make meetings valuable. It’s a whole system approach for inclusive decision making, effective governance and the ongoing evaluation and improvement of your organization. — Abhishek Gupta, technical consultant, Creative n Innovative Research, Jaipur, India
3. Stand up. Have all-hands-on-deck meetings standing up. We stand in a circle at 9 a.m. every morning and one by one state our goals for the day. Because we’re standing, we’re energized and we move fast. We’re done in 15 minutes. — Aidah Omar, consultant, Leads Gen Expert Pte Ltd., Singapore
4. Make notes. Always have someone taking notes on actionable items — who said they would do what, and when. Then have that person send the notes around after. It helps to move things along and make the meeting meaningful. — Sandi Danilowitz, founder/CEO, The Health Engine, Toronto
5. Get clear. I have people state concerns or questions beforehand. I call this “clearing.” Without it, people will be focused on their problem throughout the meeting — and may derail it to get their point across. Clearing makes the team more focused. — Dylan T. Dahlquist, research assistant, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific,Victoria, B.C.
6. Clarify tasks. Everyone writes their weekly must-dos into a Trello board for all to look over. Then we do a quick roundtable to reiterate and clarify. Sometimes verbalizing what’s written makes it appear more or less important. — Cliff Harvey, founder, Holistic Performance Institute, Auckland, New Zealand
7. Ask and listen. I like to stick to an agenda, but that doesn’t work with every client. For the non-agenda types, I ask what technology problem has been bothering them. (We do IT solutions.) The client is able to vent about their previous experiences and then can communicate what they actually need. — Mike Perez, founder and CEO, With Perez, New York
8. Do lunch. My most productive meetings follow a simple formula: no more than five people, and over lunch. When only the key people attend, it prevents loss of focus and time. Lunch is optimal because it removes stress — and the odds that everyone will attend are high. — Dr. Naim Drid, clinical research fellow, Paris VII University, Paris
9. Constrain them. I worked halfway around the world from my team for a year, and we had enough time for a single 30-minute meeting each day. That forced meetings to be front-loaded with clear action steps. We got very good at asking questions. — Jason Lengstorf, consultant/owner, Bearstone, Austin, Tex.
10. Stay on task. When the discussion starts to digress and it isn’t productive, peers may be hesitant to stop it. A leader will suggest that we discuss the new topic at a later time. Post-meeting I can decide whether to handle via email, call or another meeting. — Andrea Spirov, CEO, The Boss Food Company, Houston, Tex.