Meetings are a necessary evil in the business world. The average employee spends 31 hours each month in meetings and considers at least 50 percent of them a complete waste of time, costing businesses $37 billion a year in losses. So what does it take to turn the dreaded office meeting into a truly productive use of everyone's time?

Lew Cirne, CEO and founder of software analytics company New Relic, shared some of his most effective tips for making meetings more productive with The New York Times.

Limit meetings to six people.

“I have a table in my office,” Cirne told The New York Times. “It has six chairs around it. And if the meeting is too big for that table, I won’t go to it unless it’s a board meeting.”

Participants often feel de-engergized and lose focus during large meetings. Though talking a lot during these meetings can help him re-energize, Cirne notes that when a C.E.O. is too active in a large meeting, other participants may feel less willing to contribute.

“If you set the right tone, everyone can contribute, and you’re more focused on problem-solving. Anything more than six and it becomes more about just receiving information. You’re not part of the dialogue.”

Weed out useless meetings.

The most important question CEOs can ask themselves is how they manage their time, Cirne says.

Being deliberate about how we spend time during meetings is imperative. He reviews his standing meetings every three months.

"Every one of them ought to be able defend itself,” Cirne says. “The point is not to keep going to that meeting just because you always have to go. I think it’s a great practice to say, ‘O.K., we meet every Thursday on this. Does it have to be these people every Thursday? Why?’”