Creatives are not known for their love of business meetings. Give them a project and let them run with it, don’t make them sit and talk about it.

However, since clear communication between designers, marketing experts, developers, and their clients is essential to happy and successful results, business meetings are a necessary evil.

But they don’t have to be!  Evil, I mean.

If you are in charge of a meeting, you are also in charge of the elements that can make or break it in terms of productivity.

Here are a few tips for making your meetings smooth, efficient, and engaging:

No electronics – I know, everyone will groan. But having people check out of the discussion even once during a business meeting makes it take longer and be more repetitive. No one wants to hear an explanation twice. Remind your attendees that it means they will be out of the meeting faster!

Make a schedule – It might feel over-controlling, but make a schedule for your meeting of how long you will spend on each topic.  Build-in time to cover “other” items or things that might come up during the meeting as well. When you are out of time for something, move on. If your team really wants it to move quickly, set a timer, so when the bell rings, that’s it!

Stay on-topic – If someone starts to go off on a tangent, politely remind them that there will be an opportunity to discuss it at a later time.  Or, if required, another meeting can be scheduled to discuss it further!

Be mindful of Body Language Cues – Are your meeting participants showing signs that they are bored?  Or is everyone interested in the topics being discussed?  Keep attendees engaged by asking questions, encouraging participation, and keeping the schedule moving.

It might sound like you are supposed to be the “bad guy” at your meeting – always telling people “time’s up!” or “off-topic”.  One way to avoid that is to try assigning roles to different people in the meeting – note-taker, timekeeper, etc.  If you can get everyone into the habit of running efficient meetings, your team will stop complaining about them.  Promise!

Any other tried and tested techniques you can recommend?

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative