My kids start school next week. And the emails coming from the school district are frequent. But, like many kids across the country, mine will be spending a fair amount of time doing virtual coursework via Zoom and other platforms. Some school districts are expecting young children to spend upwards of five or six hours a day in Zoom meetings with teachers and classmates.

None of us are meant to sit in video meetings for that long.

My business coaching firm has worked remotely for more than 10 years now. We have become experts in how to streamline communication and meetings so that we make the most of our time together and are able to focus on the things that really propel our business forward. And we teach our clients how to do the same.

But, for many business owners, as for these kids, the mere mention of yet another meeting is enough to send them off the deep end. It's been estimated that executives can be in meetings for up to 23 hours per week, on average.

None of us are meant to sit in Zoom meetings for that long.

Thankfully for you and your team, you have the opportunity to turn things around. With a little bit of planning, you can get your team off of the roller coaster that is back-to-back meetings and help them gain control over their productivity and their sanity.

Here are my favorite tips for making your Zoom calls more productive. 

Meet Only If It's Necessary

If the meeting doesn't create value, cancel the meeting. This is especially true if it is a weekly or biweekly meeting that is always on the calendar. Don't be afraid to cancel a meeting to free up time to do more valuable work.  

Create an Agenda and Stick to It

Generally speaking, the more people in attendance, the more difficult this task is, and the more crucial it is to the overall success of your meeting. All meetings must have a purpose and an agenda. Someone must own the meeting and have planned out how best to accomplish the intended purpose. If someone in the meeting steers the group off course, the owner of the meeting should help get it back on task. 

Start and End Strong

My last tip for making your meetings more productive has to do with starting and ending strong. Everyone should be there on time and engaged. 

Think of opening your meeting like a blockbuster James Bond film: Start with an action sequence. This can mean that you go around the room and ask team members to share a quick victory, insight, or relevant challenge. Or it could mean you ask them a provocative question and get each participant to share their initial thoughts. These openings will root your meeting participants in the meeting and get their attention. The same goes for the end of a meeting. Once you have covered everything in your agenda, review the follow-up tasks and end the meeting as soon as possible. 

No one should be spending 23 hours or more a week in Zoom meetings. And I hope that these tips help you regain your time and get back to the things that really matter.