Five Top Tips for Making Meetings More Productive

Picture the scenario:

  • You've been invited to yet another 9.00am "Product Discussion" meeting which, truth be told, you really don't have time to attend. You probably don't even need to be there.
  • You turn up to the meeting at 08.59am. At 09.10am, just as you're wondering if it's April Fools' Day, the rest of the attendees arrive, stirring fresh coffees and nattering about Game of Thrones.
  • The next 10 minutes is spent discussing dragons, power-hungry rulers and whether or not Jon Snow is coming back.
  • At 09.20am, the meeting starts. By 09.45 the team is still languishing on Point 1 of the agenda, with 5 more points still to go.
  • By 10.00, desperation kicks in.
  • The meeting finishes around half an hour later, with no clear objectives and only half of the agenda completed. But at least you're now familiar with every TV character who ever existed.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon scenario. And while we can't promise your next meeting won't be as unproductive as this one, we can certainly help point you and your colleagues in the right direction.

At UBCUK we've been hosting meetings and accommodating businesses for years. It's what we do. So based on a lot of prior experience, allow us to suggest five ways to deliver a productive business meeting:

1. Add Timescales to Your Agenda

Firstly, create a specific agenda and send it to everyone invited to the meeting. Secondly, add estimated timescales alongside each point. It seems pedantic, but it can act as a useful guideline and ultimately, you'll be glad for it.

2. Enlist Support

Some people have a penchant for strict time-keeping, while others are a little less... charismatic. If you're not confident about verbally pushing things along, enlist some moral support from another attendee. Ask the person who called the meeting, or someone who is as busy as you are, to help keep things on-track.

3. Choose the Right Venue

You need a meeting room for a meeting. Sounds obvious doesn't it? Yet you'd be surprised how much difference the 'right' venue can make to your meeting.

Firstly, think about who's attending. For instance, high profile VIPs and corporates won't take kindly to a cramped interview room. It's unprofessional, it sets the wrong tone and it could leave you feeling flustered and distracted.

Secondly, consider why you're meeting. You'll need the right tools for the job, which might be as simple as a pad of paper and a whiteboard (supplied as standard at all UBC meeting rooms) or something more advanced, like a speakerphone or video conferencing equipment. Some meeting rooms come with monitors and equipment as standard, so pre-book equipment where necessary and ask for help, should you need it.

4. Create a Reason to Leave

Set expectations right from the start. For instance: "I have another meeting at 9.30, so let's crack on."

5. If All Else Fails, Take a Hike (literally)

Here's an idea. If it's a pleasant day, why not take it outside?

Walking meetings can be highly productive, although they're best for small groups and informal, internal meetings. Executive coach and consultant Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead from Within, says: "I find that people not only feel better, but they're more energized and alert because of the change of scenery of a walking meeting. It improves their thinking, and they're more creative in finding new solutions and more inspired to do more meaningful work."

Check out some of our favourite sunshine spots at UBC centres - perfect for outdoor walking meetings.

Have we missed something? Share your top meeting tips with us on Twitter or Facebook - we'd love to know what you think of our meeting venues and how you keep your team meetings on time and on track.