Your employees arrive at the office ready to tend to their daily tasks. They boot up their computers and read emails as they enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Then, something appears in their inboxes that might end up putting a dent in their productivity: a meeting request. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it happens every day, at companies of all sizes across the country. Workplace meetings that don’t have a clear purpose can waste your employees’ time, and prevent them from doing important work that helps make your company successful. So, what can you do? This Balboa Capital blog article has some tips you can use to make your meetings better, shorter, and more enjoyable for your employees.

Determine an agenda.

This is by far the most important step in setting up a workplace meeting. Take the time to determine why you need to hold a meeting, and what the desired outcome should be. Write down a brief list of topics, goals, and recommendations. The more specific you are with your statements, the better. For example, instead of listing “sales goals,” say “how can we increase sales by 25% by the end of the next quarter?” Clearly defining the agenda of your meeting will keep everyone on the same page, eliminate time-wasting, and maximize employee productivity.

Don’t invite everyone.

Once you have your agenda outlined, it’s time to distribute it to your employees. Knowing the items that will be covered in your meeting will help them prepare, and not be caught off guard. To keep your meeting productive, keep the number of attendees to a minimum. Invite employees who are responsible for the tasks and/or projects that will be discussed. If not, your other employees will sit there and not provide any valuable input.

Keep it short.

If you have a clear agenda for your meeting, you and your key staffers will stay focused on the tasks at hand, and less time socializing with meaningless chitter-chatter. Set a time limit beforehand, and do your best to stick to it. If anyone starts discussing an unrelated topic, let them know that it can be addressed at a later date. Talking about something that has nothing to do with your meeting will be frustrating to your employees, and cause them to lose interest in your goals. For example, you don’t need to invite your company’s IT team attend a meeting that covers sales and cash flow forecasts.

End with action items.

Whether your meeting is to provide information, gather information, solve a problem, or discuss a new business opportunity, it needs to end with action items. Take notes during your meeting and send a follow-up email that lists everyone’s responsibilities. As you know, your employees are busy, and they might forget what they were supposed to do. A list of action items will remind them of their responsibilities.