Skip to content
Taylor Burton Apr 24, 2024 9:18:00 AM 4 min read

5 Ways to Maximize Work Meetings

There's only so much time in a day. Our work week is often filled with meetings--meetings among staff members, meetings with clients--and time can easily get away from you if you're not careful. Time-wasting meetings can lead to a negative attitude and lower morale among your coworkers. You might even hear the common utterance, "This couldn't have been an email?"

Whether you're leading a meeting or a listener taking notes, there are steps you can take to be sure you're making the most of this time. Read on for five tips on how to maximize your work meetings.

Got a little downtime between those Zoom calls? Squeeze in some CLE to grab those last-minute credits for compliance! Check out what's coming up here!


Business people meeting around table in modern space


Have an agenda. For every meeting, you should prepare a structured agenda and share it with prospective attendees. Make a bulleted list, then add any questions, ideas, or concerns for each point. Encourage others to prepare their own. Along the way, keep the duration of the meeting in mind. Do you have enough time to cover every objective?

Give the agenda one last glance before starting and use it to guide you. A meeting with no agenda could easily become an aimless time waster. Advanced preparation is key!

If you're wondering how to organize your agenda, it's best to start with a strong opener or icebreaker, followed by a quick summary of your meeting's objectives. Then you can start diving deeper into the details for each point. Don't forget to leave time for questions at the end!


Invite the key players. Nobody wants to be sitting in on a meeting that doesn't pertain to them. Observe the purpose of this meeting and who should be present for it, then pursue a time that works for their availability. Inviting everyone in your firm will not only lower potential productivity, but it can also dilute engagement. It's not a birthday party--don't send out countless invitations for it.

If you ever find yourself in a meeting and it becomes apparent that you can't add value or aren't learning anything, don't shy away from honesty. Try saying, "Hey, happy to jump back in if you need me, but I think my time is better spent on focusing on a different task for the time being." You should always have the option to step away.


Brainstorm against business interface with graphs and data


Take notes. If a meeting is jam-packed with information, you want to be sure you don't let any important details slip through the cracks. Bring a notepad or a laptop for diligent notetaking. Typing can be faster, but writing notes by hand is said to be more effective in helping you retain the information. If you're in charge of the meeting, assign this task to someone responsible so you can focus on your presentation.

Practice your shorthand so that your notes are clear and succinct. Use headings to categorize your notes. This will make them easy to reference later on. If you received a meeting agenda in advance, lean on that to help you prepare.

Once the meeting has concluded, compile your notes into meeting minutes to be shared among staff.


Young design team having a meeting together in creative office


Make it a conversation. If you're actively listening and have something to add, don't be afraid to speak up when the time is right. If you're on the other side of the coin and leading the meeting, leave plenty of space for comments and questions. The element of participation will enhance your group's focus while taking the quality of your meeting to new heights. After all, that's what meetings are all about, otherwise it could have been in an email!

When in charge, it's always a great idea to seek feedback. Ask participants how they felt the meeting went or what can be improved upon. The opportunity to learn and grow is always with us.


Stay on task. A meeting is the act of putting many different personalities in one room. Some people might get easily distracted or be highly sociable, and unintentionally derail the meeting every so often. It's your job to keep this train moving. Stick to one topic at a time. If others start to stray, calmly get things back on track. Sometimes, the conversation turns to other important topics that might not necessarily pertain to this meeting. Redirect and save it for a later time.

If you are a participant, take responsibility for yourself. Focus on the task at hand. If this is a virtual meeting, eliminate distractions so that you can give this meeting your full attention. Leave your phone face down and out of reach for the entirety of the meeting.


Group of business people meeting around table with tablet


Hopefully, these tips will aid you in maximizing the efficiency of your work meetings. With that said, there's one final question to ask yourself before you start on that agenda: "Could this be an email instead?"