Meeting Productivity Killers You Need to Nix

Here's how to cut them out ASAP

Staying on schedule at events isn't just a best practice--it's pivotal with your client's time (and dollar) on the line. But from buzzing pockets to tech mishaps to continuous interruptions for anyone who has ever attended or organized a meeting, you know that there can be any number of productivity killers that waste considerable time--and cash. 

While some time-wasters are inevitable (but you should be planning for those, as we will explain below), there are ways to approach your meeting to ensure you waste as little time as possible. Here, we run down four of the biggest distractions--and how to nip them in the bud before they waste your time. 

Have an Objective and Clear-Cut Agenda 

To hold an event, you must have a purpose. But simply having that purpose--and a somewhat ambiguous route toward getting there--is hardly enough if you don't want to waste your attendees' time. As an article from Forbes says, be sure that stating your meeting's objective is the first thing you do upon starting, whether that be verbally or in written form. Sharing a goal or statement prior to the meeting starting can shave 17 minutes off your total meeting time, despite the task seeming monumentally simple! 

Past that original stated objective, you'll also need to have a clear-cut agenda available to all attendees (preferably prior to the event itself). But your version of the agenda should differ slightly from your attendees' version, as you'll need to account for buffer times throughout the day or evening. One rule of thumb? Leave five minutes (including your time allotted for breaks) in between events, topics or transitions. 

Too-Frequent Question Breaks

When it comes to the most aggravating meeting annoyances, continuous question-askers probably sit somewhere near the top. Not only can questions catch you and your presenters off guard, but they can kill a considerable amount of time. Of course, that's not to say you should nix question periods altogether. But in determining which questions to pursue or respond to in depth, an article from Inc. suggests asking yourself a single question: "Whatever is happening here--whatever is being said--is this really the most important thing for us to achieve our stated outcomes?" If the answer is no, consider politely tabling the inquiry and offering to approach the asker after the event has concluded. 

… and Disregarding Actual Breaks 

With a content-heavy agenda on tap for an event, it can be tempting to cut actual breaks to save time. But according to an article from Mashable, that good-natured attempt to end things on time can result in even more time wasted. 

As the article says, most people begin to fade after an hour or two of concentration on the same task and enter a state of mental fatigue. After that period, a break is required to recharge the brain and help it re-enter a state of high performance. 

For break ideas, encourage attendees to do the exact opposite of the task they're currently engaged in, whether that's a moment for meditation, a call to a loved one, a walk outside or simply zoning out (or napping) on a nearby lounge couch. 

Digital Distractions

In our tech-saturated society, finding an event free of phones, tablets or laptops is rare. But those attached-at-the-hip (quite literally) accessories could be putting a huge damper on your meeting productivity. In a survey from CareerBuilder, more than 2,000 hiring managers cited digital distractions as one of the worst productivity killers, with 52 percent attributing the blame to cellphones most of all. 

But according to one article, it's not necessarily the cellphones themselves that are causing the issue--it's the desire to multitask. And while it's not always best practice to ban digital devices entirely from meetings, do your part as a planner to keep things concise, clear, engaging and collaborative--as opposed to a single voice speaking for the whole. If attendees are multitasking, it might mean they're bored or unable to collaborate.