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Effective Business Meetings – Reducing the Stress and Increasing Productivity

Successful young business team creating presentation using flipchart in office


This article was originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of Terre Haute Living.

Raise your hand if you have attended any business meeting that you roll your eyes and think that the meeting is too long? So often, the agenda and purpose of the meeting can be accomplished in less than 45 minutes, but due to socializing, professional meetings last upwards of an hour to two hours.

The secret sauce of a meeting lies in little nuggets of planning and preparing for the actual meeting.

  1. Host the meeting by standing up. Standing for a meeting will decrease meeting time by up to 35%, according to Robert Sutton, author of the “A$$hole Survival Guide.” Standing up for meetings also reduces roadblocks while still capturing knowledge. It improves shared goals as well.
  2. Draft your agenda and omit items that state “discuss” and “review.” By having items that state discuss and review it encourages behavior in which decisions are not being made. Removing such language and restating “decision” in its place ensures that movement along a path is going to take place for that organization, business, initiative or community.
  3. STOP having regular meetings just to conduct a meeting. Many organizations host “mandatory” Monday meetings or bi-monthly conference calls to check-in on the activity or productivity of the department or staff. Why? Is this not why reports exist? Activity and productivity are documented by submissions to department heads, CEO’s, presidents and supervisors. If there is an issue or concern, then the staff member or employee understands the necessary procedures on who to contact and a routine meeting is not necessary. These meetings require unnecessary time and resources that reduce productivity and eat up valuable time each day, week and month.
  4. Only meet when there is a purpose to create value and be sure to stay focused on the agenda. Do not let conversations stray into topics that are unrelated and be ready to harness the group back on topic quickly.
  5. Hold the participants accountable for being on time and leaving early.
  6. Prohibit devices during meetings, this increases team building and collaboration.
  7. Invitations should be extended to a maximum of eight attendees. Consider how many people can effectively make decisions, how many people can work together well? Usually, that magic number is about eight. There is, of course, a little wiggle room in that number, but this is a nice guide for you to start with.

As a wrap-up, consider how decisions are made. Does your meeting group understand agendas and how to communicate decisions effectively? Design an agenda, share that item with the team and be sure you slim down your meeting time with some of the suggestions above to be more effective with not only your colleagues’ time but also your time as well.

Heather Strohm is a community development regional educator for the Southwest Region of Purdue University Extension who regularly contributes a Business Cents column for the Terre Haute Living. She can be reached at

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