Top-Shelf Tip No. 216:

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

Peter Drucker

Seven Ways To Optimize Your Meetings

Most companies hold too many meetings. When you and your team members are hunkered down in conference rooms, you're not meeting with clients, developing campaigns or making money.

While some meetings are necessary, Peter Daisyme, co-founder of Hostt, says that leaders can take steps to make every meeting better and more meaningful. We share how in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Automate the schedule and agenda. Instead of playing email tag, Daisyme suggests using workflow-automation tools to find a time that works best for everyone. These tools can also help you create better meeting agendas. When attendees know what to bring and what to say, you can slash meeting time in half, letting everyone get back to work.

2. Limit the guest list. Anyone who doesn't play an active role in the decision-making process doesn't need to attend your meeting, according to Daisyme. That includes superiors who want to stay informed and frontline team members who will carry out the decisions. Keep the attendee list as short as possible, then update people who need to know the details in a post-meeting email.

3. Ban presentation tools. People forget PowerPoint slides the moment they see them. Daisyme recommends ditching the presentation tools and limiting your communications to the most relevant information. Distribute copies of the data and cover only the most important parts in the meeting.

4. Stay strictly on time. If you say your meeting will start at 9 am, don't start at 9:02. Respect your time—and everyone else's—by sticking to the schedule. This may take some getting used to, depending on your office culture, but stricter time management pays off.

5. Name names. To keep meetings relevant and prevent too much time spent on clarification, assign a directly responsible individual for every action item. Otherwise, everyone in the room will nod at the necessity of the proposed action, then leave assuming someone else will take care of it.

6. Meet in person. During conference calls, people like to send emails, check social media and eat breakfast—in other words, do pretty much everything except participate, says Daisyme. Avoid wasting people's time by hosting live meetings whenever possible. In situations where one or more attendees works remotely, use videoconferencing tools to simulate the real thing. Nothing beats an in-person meeting, but when attendees can see and respond to one another's real faces, they at least know their colleagues are present and engaged.

7. Change the environment. Schedule off-site meetings at either the beginning or end of the day to give attendees a break from the usual. Shake up traditional meetings a bit more by enforcing a standing-only policy. People like sitting down, and the longer you make them stand, the faster they'll want the meeting to end.

If you're going to host or attend a meeting, make it worthwhile by taking the steps above.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. He is also the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online.