Meetings are known to be the part that everyone hates about the corporate world. They start out with good intentions, but they quickly descend into nothingness as people start to leave the agenda and before you know it you've reached the end of the meeting with almost nothing accomplished.

Make running your meetings more effective to enable you to get more done and to actually achieve something. This guide is going to help you to get more out of your next corporate gathering.

1. Spend Twice the Time on the Agenda

The biggest reason for a lack of productivity is a lack of time spent on the actual meeting agenda. One survey said that 90% of meetings fail to achieve their objectives. When the objectives are unclear and you have no real goal in mind for accomplishing something, you are not going to get anything done. As the organizer, you must be clear about your objectives and then you have to stick to the agenda.

Not only should you make your objectives clear you should then spend practically the whole meeting time on them. Don't go off-track, and work with the team to maintain the correct direction of the meeting.

2. Think about the Guest List

Look over who you are going to summon to the meeting and ask whether they really need to be there. Too often meetings are full of people who don't need to be there. The more people you have the harder it is to control and the more time will need to be spent on each issue.

If someone can be briefed through a simple email summary after the meeting, that's the best way of handling it. Look at your initial guest list and the chances are you can reduce it by half.

3. Make Meetings Faster

Meetings tend to lose their productivity after a certain amount of time as people grow bored and tired. Long meetings are the annoyance of the corporate world and they are rarely necessary. Most meetings tend to stretch to reach the right space. They rarely go over and they rarely finish later.
Schedule the meeting to last for half the time you originally intended. This will help to eliminate meaningless conversation. It will force you to focus on the tasks at hand.

In the unlikely event that you do need to increase the length of your meetings, you can always do so, as long as you're not relying on these extensions.

4. Don't Start Late

There's always that one person in a company who comes in late. It may seem like a kind thing to wait for everyone to arrive and to settle, but you are actually making it harder to get what you need done. Wasting time on the chronic latecomer is only making it harder for everyone else, and in many ways you are making it difficult to be punctual.

In the future, don't wait for the latecomers. Start without them, regardless of whether they will be five more minutes. It will also help them to arrive at the right time in the future because there's nothing more embarrassing than slinking into a meeting already in progress.

Help people to get the message and you will get more out of your meetings.

5. Consider a Stand-Up Meeting

If it's appropriate, you may want to consider a stand-up meeting. A stand-up meeting is exactly what you would expect. Rather than sitting around a table you stand around the table instead. This isn't some form of new age nonsense. Real research has backed up the benefits of the stand-up meeting.

The studies have shown that a stand-up meeting can help people make decisions faster. The number of quality decisions made has also been higher than those who were sitting down.

Granted, these meetings aren't always practical. You wouldn't invite a client into your office and then force them to stand up. Internal meetings, however, can benefit from this format.

6. Last Word--Reducing Wasted Time

Effective meetings are effective because they get right to the heart of the matter. The key to an effective meeting is to trim it down to its bare bones. Invite only who absolutely has to be there and ensure that you are sticking to a pre-approved agenda.

Furthermore, you should increase the urgency. By increasing the urgency, people will be less tempted to take up time with meaningless conversations. It may be difficult to change your ways like this, but by taking a leap of faith you will get more done.

Now meetings can be an asset to your company, rather than something that takes up an unnecessary period of time.

Published on: May 3, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.