Written by Jasmine Cargill
on March 04, 2016
Tired of long rambling discussions and meetings that drag out? Looking for ways to keep your meetings focused and on track? These strategies will help you use time wisely and create efficient meetings.


1. Limitation creates focus

One effective strategy is to set a time limit on meeting discussions and agenda items and use a timer to stick to the allotted time. This approach will keep the meeting focused and help it achieve its goal. You can use a find a range of interesting and quirky timers online that will keep your participants engaged and energized.

Play with how short you can make the allocated time-slots while still covering what needs to be covered. Set frames and limits but don’t be too rigid. A skilled facilitator knows when the timing needs to be adjusted. You can set limits but be willing to give extra time, occasionally, when that will serve the goal and purpose of the meeting.

2. Constraints breeds creativity

Invite your participants to give updates in the most concise ways possible. You can play with using a timer or by setting constraints on the amount of words used. Instructions like “give an update in three sentences or less” or “with no more than 10 words” will challenge your participants to communicate creatively and concisely. 

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3. Change the furniture  

Unless you want people to settle in for long discussions and drawn-out meetings, get rid of the cushy coma-inducing chairs. Book meetings in the rooms that are a little less cosy. Take people out of their comfort zone - literally. They’ll be more awake, more alert and the meeting will be more focused.


4. Take a stand

If you can’t change the chairs, take them away altogether. Make the meeting a standing meeting. For meetings of 30 minutes or less, get together around a white board or a bar table (if you have one in your office that is, we are not suggesting you go to a bar). Take away the chairs and you’ll get through the agenda in a focused and efficient manner.

If a longer meeting becomes in danger of dragging out - use the same strategy - get people up and on their feet. One way to do this is to suggest a quick break and a remove the chairs while people are out of the room. Creative energy will rise and everyone will be more invested in getting the meeting to its conclusion if they are standing up.


5. Study time

Taking five to ten minutes at the beginning of a meeting for people to read background material can actually make the meeting more efficient. This way, time is not wasted getting participants on the same page or filling in the gaps for those who were not able to prepare. 

Read our guidelines for creating effective meeting agendas and download our simple agenda template.

Another way to make your meetings more efficient is to move to a digital meeting solution. First Agenda’s digital meeting solution optimizes the administration of meetings and streamlines meeting preparation.


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