Whether they are something we find enjoyable or not, meetings are an inevitable aspect of life in the business world. Thankfully, if meetings are run properly, we can come away from them feeling extremely positive and productive as they can help us collaborate as a team, save time and money and generate innovative ideas. Unfortunately however, not every business meeting accomplishes these outcomes.

Below is a list of three common scenarios which can hinder our productivity in meetings and even result in the team failing. It is possible nevertheless, to get your meetings back on track by implementing the right tools and techniques and through the use of proper planning.

The Never-Ending Presentation

On the unfortunate occasion that a member of staff delivers a 100-slide PowerPoint to a room full of people, this fails to class as a meeting – it is a presentation. Business meetings are for group collaboration and should encourage the participation of as many attendees as possible. Any presentation which is delivered without the prospect of a group discussion is essentially an open invite for all those present to check-out mentally. If all the information is readily-available on the slides then why not just download the document and read it over in their own time?

Of course presentations are an inevitable aspect of business meetings at times, but it is essential to remember that productivity requires time room for questions, answers and action. If you choose to call a meeting in order to deliver a presentation, keep the slides brief and always encourage onlookers to participate. Speakers should avoid waiting for their final ‘Questions?’ slide and instead solicit feedback periodically throughout the presentation, thus ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

The Relentlessly Recurring Meeting

All of us have experienced it in the past – that meeting which is automatically set to repeat every week on your calendar, same place, same time, whether it is necessary or not. These meetings are something far too habitual in the workplace and have a tendency to become unbearably dull. However, it is possible to keep these recurring meetings productive each week.

Firstly, attendees should be reminded that there is always a purpose to these get-togethers. Send an agenda prior to the meeting to all those invited every single week. Not only does this allow everyone to prepare for the discussions, but it also reminds them of the goals which you are aiming to meet by the end of the meeting. In order to keep recurring meetings efficient, only plan to review topics worthy of face-to-face discussion – anything else should probably be dealt with via the phone or an email.

The “Why is she here?” Conference

Have you ever been sitting in a conference room, looked around, and  wondered who half of the people sitting alongside you are? Or what they are here to contribute? Or perhaps that a number of key people seem to be missing entirely? Meetings can only reach their full productivity potential if the right people are present – no more, no less. If too many people attend a meeting then you run the risk of overcrowding conversations and limiting the ability to reach a general consensus. On the other hand, if you fail to invite those with a valuable input, or hold meetings when they are unavailable you will struggle to achieve the tasks you set out to.

According to The New York Times, smaller meetings of around five to eight people, are far more productive, therefore you should try and limit your guestlist as best you can. In general, you should aim to ensure that everyone present at the meeting should have their own role in the discussion. Similarly, each attendee should come away from the meeting feeling they have an action to complete.