We say that meetings are toxic and are the time of your workday “where minutes are taken and hours are wasted.” Does it always have to be like that? Is there something we could do, to retool them and make them more effective?

Solution exists!

“Meetings exist for a reason, annoying as they may be. Decisions are made, problems are solved, bonds are formed, and the needle is moved in meetings. The higher you go in management, the more meetings are your work." - admits Laura Stack in her article for Productive! Magazine. It’s true, so lets see, what - according to Laura Stack - may be done to plan and run the meeting that actually solves problems and ends up with a specific decisions and set of tasks delegated to right people.

8 non-toxic meetings tips&tricks from Laura Stack

1. Invoke the necessity clause

Make sure the meeting is necessary to solve a given problem. Most minor things can be quickly handled through task management software (like Nozbe Teams :-)), Slack or other team chat, a phone call or email.

2. Don’t wait for stragglers

“Your attendees should be adult enough to keep track of their obligations and make the meeting on time.” - emphasizes Laura. “If someone comes in late, don’t stop to bring them up to speed; let them grab someone else’s notes, or brief them later. If the meeting’s long and you need a break, tell everyone exactly how long they have to return, and don’t wait for them if they don’t get back in time.”

3. Facilitate

Every meeting needs a good facilitator to directs the meeting and doesn’t let the time being wasted.

Facilitator’s role is to:

  • make sure everyone stays on point,
  • acknowledge speakers,
  • limit speaking time,
  • urge quieter attendees to speak up.
  • end the meeting on time,
  • make sure everyone knows what to do to put the decisions taken into effect.

4. Encourage a relaxed atmosphere

Laura Stack thinks that normal office venues may be too noisy or boring to easily keep people on task. Thus, she thinks it’s good to “find a nearby off-site location where you can more easily get into the groove and complete your business.”

5. Stick to the agenda

“Your facilitator will help here, but be sure to send everyone copies of the agenda in advance, so they know what you plan to discuss and why. This will help everyone stay on topic.” - says Laura.

6. Cut back on breaks

That’s a fact: one of reasons meetings drag on so long is that the attendees take too many breaks and drag in late. So firstly, it’s best to limit the meeting to maximum 60 minutes - you won’t need breaks then. If the meeting has to be longer, “one 10-minute break per 90 minutes should be sufficient.” - according to Laura.

7. Limit the number of attendees

Bring together only as many people as you can handle and include only the people who must be there.

“The late Steve Jobs of Apple was famous for sending away the least important attendee of any given meeting, as well as people he felt had no overriding need to attend.” - reminds Laura.

8. Select a time when attendees are motivated to finish quickly

That’s a smart one! :-) Laura Stack suggests Tuesday at 3:00 PM. Why? “Because everyone has recovered from the previous weekend, hasn’t started the downward slide to the next, and wants to finish before quitting time.”

Late-afternoon meeting end quicker in general - people just want to go home or finish their job before leaving.

Mid-morning meetings take advantage of the need to finish before lunch, which can also hustle things along.

Read and act right away

If you find Laura Stack’s advice reasonable and want to apply it in your team ASAP it' fantastic! To help you with that, we’ve prepared a Nozbe.HOW template including the steps you need to take.

Take a look at it and feel free to adjust it to your needs and your team’s character and workflow. You can use it even if you don’t have a Nozbe account. If you do - that’s great. You can save it to your project list, modify it if needed and share it with your manager or colleagues.

We are sure, your meetings won’t turn into a snooze session ever again and your team will become even more productive.

Nozbe.HOW Templates - try them, share your ideas and earn :-)

Nozbe.HOW Templates are shareable and actionable project patterns. You can share your to-do lists and strategies with others with a simple link. People who open your template can use it right away and adjust it to their needs. They even don’t need to register in Nozbe for that.

Here is a list of Nozbe.HOW templates created by the app users so far - you might check them out and use the ideas for your benefit :-)

And that’s not all! Users who share their templates can count on some passive income. They will get commissions from payments made by people who liked their project and the way it works and decided to get a Nozbe account themselves.

Meet Laura Stack of The Productivity Pro

Laura Stack is America’s premier expert in productivity. For over 20 years, her speeches have helped entrepreneurs, leaders, teams, and organizations improve output, lower stress, and save time at work and in life. Her company, The Productivity Pro®, Inc., provides time management workshops around the globe to help attendees achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®.

Check out Laura’s latest book.

Visit Laura’s website.

Follow Laura on Twitter.