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Employees are busy people! With full schedules of tasks and daily demands, meetings can eat up lots of valuable time. To be sure you’re spending your staff’s time wisely, it helps to follow a few meeting best practices.

Six pathways to better meetings

To get everyone through a meeting and back to their workday, consider all of the following:

1. Have an objective.

Know what you want to accomplish during the meeting. This way, if things begin to go off-topic, you can bring the focus of the group back to the goal at hand. Brainstorming and tangents have their place, but you have a limited amount of time to achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.

2. Include only the must-haves.

Carefully consider who will need to attend your meeting. Do not send an invite to anyone who will not get value from or add value to the discussion.

3. Circulate an agenda before the meeting.

Allowing people to think beforehand about what they’d like to say can help meetings move along quickly and easily. Plan to email your agenda a few days before the meeting. Attendees will have time to review, but not so much time they will forget what they wanted to note.

4. Stick to a time schedule.

If your meeting is 30 minutes, begin wrapping it up a few minutes before the end. If you need more time to discuss the topic, simply schedule a follow-up meeting. And if you’ve covered what you need to before the time limit, by all means, wrap it up so everyone can get back to work.

5. Recap at the end.

As the meeting facilitator, keep track of key takeways—and then at the very end of the meeting, summarize who will be doing what, including deadlines to be met. This way, you can be sure everyone leaves “on the same page” and the meeting was fruitful.

6. Consider if a meeting is even necessary.

Some topics can be summed up in a group email chain. Only hold meetings for topics that merit some discussion.

Your employees will thank you

It can be nice to take time to talk with fellow co-workers, rather than constantly sending emails back and forth. But just be careful to dole out meeting invites carefully to maximize the use of your workers’ time.

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