Have you ever stopped to do the math behind meetings?

Every time you bring 10 people together in an one hour meeting, you are basically trading 10 hours of productivity for one. That means you're sacrificing nine hours in the process.

Considering that you probably have a few meetings a week, how many hours of your team's productivity are you sacrificing per month? This isn't even including meetings that go longer than they should.

I've had countless meetings that were supposed to only last 30 minutes, yet we were still there after an hour--and discussing a completely different topic. The wasted time always meant we had to stay longer hours in the office to get our work done. Nobody likes that.

Want to learn how to make your meetings more productive, so that you're not wasting precious time? Follow the steps below:

1. Be selective about who is going to be in the meeting.

Listen. No more saying, "Tell everyone in the department that we're having a meeting tomorrow."

Each person that joins the meeting is sacrificing valuable time to be there--time that might be better spent elsewhere. So, choose your attendees carefully. When I'm deciding who I want in my meeting, I ask myself these two questions:

  • Who's in the best position to help the team arrive at a decision?
  • Who's going to be involved in this project moving forward?

Anyone who doesn't qualify under either category shouldn't be in the meeting. It's that simple.

2. Have a clear agenda.

Clarity is king, and you always want to have a clear agenda for each meeting. This helps your team members get ready in advance, so they can tackle the issues right from the meeting's first minute.

Without an agenda, your team members might introduce all sorts of unrelated topics during the meeting. This gives you less time to focus on the topics you probably need to discuss urgently.

In order to make sure everyone's on the same page, I like to send out an agenda one day ahead of my meetings. The agenda can simply be a few bullet points of what I want to discuss. Or, it can be a lot more organized.

As an example, here's the one I use for my team's daily Morning Mojo calls:

  • Sharing sales results (three minutes)

  • Company updates and sharing of key metrics (two minutes)

  • Role-playing with team members (10 minutes)

  • Celebrating wins (two minutes)

  • Recapping goals (two minutes)

3. Define a precise time to finish meeting.

Meetings typically take more time than it's necessary, but it doesn't have to be that way. Restricting your meeting time works wonders in keeping your team focused and concentrated. If you think the meeting should last 45 minutes, book 30 minutes instead.

Another trick: Schedule another activity right after your meeting, and let your team members know that you have something to attend to ("I have another call in 30 minutes, so let's keep this short and sweet!").

4. Conclude with next steps.

At the end of every meeting, dedicate the last 5-10 minutes to discussing the next steps.

Here's a worst-case scenario: You make significant progress during a meeting, but when you meet again one week later, you realize no one's actually done anything. There was no accountability!

The good news? Making sure your team members are accountable is simple enough. At my company, we have someone take notes during the meeting. After we wrap up, this person will email the whole team the list of tasks, together with the people responsible for each task.

Here's the deal. The vast majority of employees waste tons of time in long drawn out, unproductive meetings. But using these above tips, you can have your team be the exception.