Unfortunately, we have all sat through meetings that did not accomplish anything. Many of us probably have one or two of these time-wasting meetings on our Calendar. At present, many of our calendars are filled with unproductive meetings, and here are 25 ways to make your meetings less productive.

We know the low productivity meeting is coming, and many are not sure how to stop that big ball rolling down upon you in the meeting “cave.” Typically these unproductive meetings have many participants and few outlined objectives. Here is a look at the ways that you can potentially make your meeting less productive. Now, all you need to do is the opposite. You can always Implement the “good” strategies appropriate for your workgroup.

1. Forget to set an agenda.

It is easy to assume that everyone knows what is supposed to be happening at the meeting. That is usually an untrue assumption that leads to all around confusion. It is always a good idea to set up an agenda and send it out to the participants before the meeting. An early agenda warning gives everyone a chance to come prepared. If no one is sure what the meeting will cover, then they will be less likely to be aware of the current status of agenda items.

2. Don’t bother taking notes.

Although we wish that we could remember everything talked about during a meeting, that is just typically not possible. It is a good idea to designate a note taker before each meeting starts. The note-taker should send out their summary of the meeting to the participants soon after it ends. New AI-enabled calendars will record your meeting and send out the actions needed for the meeting — plus your notes. Everything recorded and noted will make subsequent meetings more productive because everyone should be on the same page.

3. Start late.

This one is obvious. If you start late, then you set a lousy precedent for all meetings. Bad starts are never a good thing, especially when it comes to meetings. Start on time – end on time. Period.

4. Don’t create a time frame.

When you are creating the agenda, you should set up time frames for each topic. Of course, there is some room for adjustment during the meeting. However, these time frames allow people to see approximately how much time each subject will take. It is especially important to let any presenters know what their time limit is. Otherwise, someone could take over the entire meeting with their presentation slides.

5. Invite Everyone.

Instead of inviting the entire office or team, just invite critical team members. Anyone that does not have a direct in the meeting or project is just someone that does not need to be there. It is possible they will take valuable time and resources away from the meeting.

6. Disregard introductions.

If anyone in the room is new or unfamiliar with the project, then it is a good idea to break the ice. Of course, it can be as simple as introducing everyone, especially if prospects are present.

7. Overdo the icebreaker.

Do not spend too much time on icebreakers because it can potentially cut into your actual meeting time. One time I went to a meeting with a three-hour icebreaker. What a time-suck. It ended up running into the rest of the meeting and forcing us all to stay late. Keep an icebreaker to a couple of minutes and very, very simple.

8. Skip breaks.

Although breaks are not strictly productive, it is important to give everyone a chance to breathe. Even if it is just a five-minute coffee break, it will help. Typically people come back refreshed and ready to dive back in following a break.

9. Forget the snacks.

If you are planning to host a long meeting, then you should provide some light snacks and beverages. No one can think on an empty stomach.

10. Invite distractions.

Everyone is accustomed to having their phones and laptops at the ready. It is too tempting to get distracted by the internet instead of focusing on the meeting.

11. Don’t address action items.

It is essential to create action items. It is also important to follow through. Do not just write them down, actually address these and quickly run through them. Your AI-enabled notes and assignments will take care of the rest.

12. Ignore deadlines.

Just like action items, you need to keep all deadlines in mind and be precise. Set deadlines for team members and follow up during meetings.

13. Start the conversation.

Although the leader of the meeting may need to say a few words, it is a good idea to open the floor to the group. Opportunities to address issues and concerns that you may not have been aware of are crucial to stay connected to your team.

14. Stay too formal.

Formal meeting settings have their place. However, it is usually a good idea to invite discussion from the team and build on the ideas presented by team members. Most of the meeting can be formal but allow for a little discussion time or round robin that will include team members and their opinions.

15. Get sidetracked.

Try to avoid going down any rabbit holes. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed at a different time, then make that an agenda item for the next meeting.

16. Create long sessions.

No one wants to sit through a six-hour meeting. It may be required for certain situations, but attempt to keep the meetings as short as possible.

17. Throw out the agenda.

You can adjust the agenda if needed, but it should only be as a last resort. If at all possible stick to the agenda and work through the items on that list.

18. Squeeze in everything on your to-do list.

Typically you cannot squeeze an entire project into one meeting. You can (and should) spread of the process across multiple shorter meetings.

19. Have meetings for no reason.

Sometimes we can get into the habit of having a meeting scheduled every week or every other week. Although this is a good way to keep the time open on your Calendar, sometimes these meetings are not necessary. Make sure that your scheduled meetings have meaningful and productive goals before you get started.

20. Keep the spotlight on a few people.

Some projects will have a few key players that present at every meeting. However, you should make an effort to involve everyone. It will help to keep everyone interested and engaged in the meeting.

21. Ignore the next steps.

After every meeting, the participants usually come away with tasks or action items to focus on. Make sure that everyone is clear about the next steps before they leave the meeting.

22. Figure out the technology at the last second.

Many of us use virtual meeting systems. It is excellent to involve long-distance team members. However, you should test out the technology before the meeting starts. Technical errors are a great way to harpoon the productivity of your meeting before you even get started.

23. Set it for lunchtime.

No one wants to sit through a meeting on their regular lunch hour. Everyone is hungry and just not interested in the meeting.

24. Leave no room for error.

In your agenda, you should schedule some buffers into the time frame. People talk and get off track; this built-in time will ensure that it does not affect the productivity of the meeting too much.

25. Have hours of PowerPoints — sometimes — but rarely.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool for some presentations. However, not every meeting needs hundreds of slides. It is an easy way for your audience to start tuning you out as you flip through your presentation.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can avoid these productivity zapping activities in your next meeting.