Tools for productive meetings

Picture of a productive team meeting
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

1 July 2016

What can you do to ensure a productive, valued meeting that achieves set objectives and allows discussion time for each team member?

Harvard Business School professor, Nancy Koehn, cited the stats surrounding ineffective meetings, suggesting that in the US alone, there were 2 billion ineffective meetings per year; equivalent to $37 billion in monetary value. Around half of meeting attendees found the process of a meeting unnecessary or unproductive.

There are a variety of tools, apps, and approaches that are available for your use, edification and even entertainment. It’s important to consider: why you are having the meeting in the first place; who should attend; what needs to be discussed; and whether the objectives for your meeting will be attainable. 

Once all that’s sorted you can take advantage of the tools that will simplify that experience to a thoroughly enjoyable one!

Design your playground

There are computer-based applications and systems that can be deployed to bring a new level of creativity and organisation to your brain-storming activities. Twiddla is a web-based programme that allows you to virtually collaborate with meeting attendees by marking-up websites, sketching, and more. It works across all browsers and systems to ensure the tech requirements of each participant are simplified.

Make use of organising apps

For example, the Do app integrates a series of apps and services into one workflow; calendars, note apps, task managers, and communication apps become one hive mind. It ends the problems with different team members organising their workflow across competing apps and demonstrates the relation between calendar activities and required tasks for that day.

Everyone must discern the tangible benefit for having a team meeting.

Simple fix for cross-continent meetings

The Time and Date website provides an excellent resource to bookmark – a tool that allows you to set geographical locations for meeting attendees. Hey presto, you can find out all the suitable times to arrange.

Get Slack

Apparently this app tool is also used by the Mars Curiosity Rover team! Slack lets your team host conversations on various channels for added transparency, as well as private channels for secure information. We often end up drowning in email messages to organise meetings, so move it to a channel that leaves your desktop and mailbox uncluttered. You can also use it to host virtual meetings.

Do you need to hold a meeting?

If this meeting subject could be sorted through one quick phone call, email or a post-it note left on a desk, then do that. We spend more and more time away from our desks to engage in internal meetings, so the best approach for being productive is bypassing the meetings you just don’t need. 

Everyone must discern the tangible benefit for having a team meeting. Ask yourself what you want to achieve at the end of meeting – if it’s not going to be possible then look at an alternative way to reach that goal.


  • Technology
  • CA Student blog

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