Making Meetings Purposeful

Making Meetings Purposeful

Group of business people clapping hands for a coworker in staff meeting. Multi-ethnic business team applauding for a female colleague in a meeting.

No one dreads a calendar invite when they trust their coworkers to conduct purposeful meetings. However, that’s not often the case. Fifty-five million meetings occur every week in the United States, but 71% are considered unproductive. That is an astounding amount of eye-glazing encounters. Worse yet, unnecessary or poorly planned meetings often stand in the way of productivity. If we want more engaged, productive employees, it’s time for corporate America to rethink meetings. 

Purposeful meetings are the way forward. One would hope every calendar invite they receive has a purpose, but the meeting that follows is often a listless mess with little to show for the time spent. Of course, none of us set out to waste each other’s time, yet the numbers say that we constantly do. 

In fact, meeting frequency has increased by 153% since the start of the pandemic, leading companies like Shopify to go full scorched earth on their calendars. At the beginning of 2023, they removed 10,000 events from calendars in response to the “total buzzkill for morale” their meeting inundation caused. 

That’s why purposeful meetings matter. Your team can accomplish much more in fewer meetings with a little bit more structure in place. In this blog, we’ll go through strategies you can implement into your meetings to make them more purposeful. 



Avoid scheduling during more productive times in the day

Few things are more frustrating at work than getting thrown off your groove. When you schedule meetings, especially recurring meetings, aim to avoid peak productive hours for your team. Some data suggests those hours are between 9 AM through 11 AM, but everyone is different. Communicate with your team to determine when they feel most productive during the day so you don’t disrupt their rhythm with a meeting. Even a purposeful meeting can turn out to be a negative impact if it means getting in the way of productivity.  



A group of business employees sitting down together and brainstorming during a meeting at the office.


Create an agenda

This is the most crucial step for purposeful meetings as it’s where you’ll define the purpose. However, agenda setting also allows you to assess whether the discussion is even worth having. For example, how many pieces of your plan could be covered over Teams, Slack, or email? 

“This meeting could have been an email” is a well-worn cliche, but that’s because it frequently rings true. However, if you determine that the meeting would be worthwhile, here are a few steps to create a solid agenda. 

First, identify your main goal with this meeting. Is there a specific task you want to complete? Is it a weekly check-in? Then determine if it’s worthy of a meeting. If it is, move on to the next step, which is setting your agenda items. Each item in the agenda should contribute to the overall goals of your purposeful meeting. 

As you examine your agenda items, ask yourself if the best way to complete each item would be over a meeting. If not, consider checking in on that item or seeing if there are any roadblocks to getting it done. Otherwise, you risk holding the meeting hostage while you work through something that would be better handled on the employee’s own time. 

Then, organize your agenda items and estimate how long each takes. Writing that out gives your meeting more structure. It’s easier to stay on track when everyone can see what’s allotted for each topic. Finally, give everyone time to prepare. For example, if the agenda you’re working on is for a weekly standup, try to get it done and sent out well ahead of time. This allows the whole team to organize their thoughts, leading to a more focused, purposeful meeting. 



Be thoughtful about the guest list

How many times have you sat through a meeting that you did not need to attend? It happens all the time, but it doesn’t have to. Determine who needs to be on the call before sending out the invite. If someone on your team may not need to speak in the meeting, but some of the information would be useful for them, consider taking notes or sending a recording of the meeting instead. 

Your employees will appreciate that you’ve kept them in the loop while using their time well. In addition, being thoughtful with the guest list leads to a more purposeful meeting for everybody in attendance. 


Happy business people discussing during meeting in board room at corporate office


How long should meetings last?

Of course, meeting length depends on the goals of the meeting. Some research indicates that twenty-five minutes is the ideal length for a meeting, but that won’t work for everything. Check-ins and recaps can often slide nicely into that range. However, brainstorming sessions need more space to find ideas. Similarly, a strategy session or decision-making meeting can take forty-five minutes to multiple hours. 

If you plan to run a meeting longer than an hour and a half, try to build in a break. Otherwise, everyone involved could find themselves saying whatever it takes to get to the end of the call instead of thoughtfully discussing the topic at hand. Essentially, a purposeful meeting isn’t determined by how long it was. Instead, it’s a product of time well spent.



Start and end on time

From time to time, meetings run over. However, if it becomes a regular occurrence, frustration will grow. To avoid that, be realistic about the amount of time your meeting will take. Don’t squeeze an hour and a half’s worth of content into a forty-five-minute meeting. As you review your agenda, make a few choices about what your team must do on the call versus items you can check off over Teams or Slack. 

Additionally, try your best to start the meeting on time. A few minutes here and there won’t make or break the call, but the goal of a purposeful meeting is to use everyone’s time effectively. So plan a little bit of time in the beginning to chat and some time towards the end for questions, but focus your attention on the core topics at hand. 

If you feel a particular topic is running over its allotted time, offer to discuss it further after the call. This is especially important in team meetings where multiple people are waiting to discuss their portion. 



Leave the meeting with clear next steps

Finally, a purposeful meeting isn’t complete without a set of next steps. By the end of the discussion, everyone should know what’s expected of them moving forward. Establish tasks and timelines, and determine whether anyone needs additional guidance. Though a meeting can be useful to complete tasks in some instances, it’s best to use them for clarification, especially in a multi-person call. 



ADDA can help you build a stronger culture

ADDA understands what it takes to build a company culture that people love. Our services include employee relations, executive coaching, policy-making, and so much more. With our help, you can create a culture of trust and respect where everyone’s time is appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.




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