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4 Key Strategies to Eliminate Unproductive Meetings: A Guide to Efficient Meeting Management

4 Key Strategies to Eliminate Unproductive Meetings: A Guide to Efficient Meeting Management

In an organization, almost 40% of the time is spent on meetings.

Meetings may be the most time-consuming aspect of all management work.

However, many managers simply cannot conduct a good meeting.

Most of the time, meetings are just going through the motions and wasting time.

So, what are the characteristics of inefficient meetings? How can we conduct effective meetings?

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01-Meeting at the end of the workday

Have you ever experienced this?

It’s almost time for dinner, only 15 minutes left until the end of the workday, and you’ve successfully completed all your tasks for the day.

You’re hungry and exhausted, eager to go home.

Then, suddenly, you receive a meeting invitation.

Your heart sinks, and a sense of foreboding fills your mind.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, the boss walks out of the office with a smile and says to you:

Put aside whatever you’re working on, we need to have an urgent short meeting.

The meeting begins.

As usual, the boss talks incessantly, the managers chime in, and the employees look bewildered.

What was supposed to be a short meeting turns into half an hour, then an hour and a half, then two and a half hours, and finally four hours…

A short meeting has turned into a long one.

Outside, the night sky has turned pitch black.

You sigh silently in your heart.

You can’t help but calculate the cost for the company:

A meeting with 20 people, lasting 4 hours, assuming each employee’s time cost is 100 dollar per hour.

The cost of this meeting is:

100 dollar x 20 people x 4 hours = 8000 dollar.

Normally, any reimbursement over 200 dollar requires approval from relevant departments.

Now, with just a casual gathering, 8000 dollar has been spent, and no one cares.

The meeting concludes, and the boss smiles and says:

Today’s meeting was very successful.

Then, one of the attendees is assigned the task of organizing the meeting minutes, remembering:

Who do What by When.

After it’s done today, send it to the entire company.

The employee nods in confusion.

The email is sent in the afternoon, and when the boss sees it, their smile gradually freezes…

Suddenly, a surge of anger and frustration wells up, and their vision darkens.

Because the meeting minutes are completely different from what they had in mind, the essence and key points they thought were important are not highlighted.

This phenomenon is encountered by almost all bosses, managers, and employees.

Suppressing the pain as if being pierced by a thousand arrows,

The boss, suppressing the pain of being pierced by a thousand arrows, sits down and supports their forehead, starting to introspect:

Why is it that after the meeting ends, the highly summarized conclusions and resolutions in my mind are completely different from what the employees have in their minds?

And what about the other attendees?

Could it be that all 20 people leave with 20 different conclusions?

This is terrifying…

02-Keep going back and forth in meetings.

After work, let’s have a discussion.

  • Let’s touch base and see if we’re on the same page.
  • Let’s have a quick meeting to review things together.
  • Let’s chat and brainstorm some ideas.
  • Let’s align our thoughts and strategies.
  • Let’s synchronize our understanding.

We keep going back and forth in our discussions.

And there’s no guarantee of rest on Saturdays, but Sundays might be off.

It’s a “5+2” work week, with meetings day and night, which we jokingly call the “nightclub.”

But after a meeting, the boss asks, “Does everyone understand?”

No one speaks up.

Is there a problem?

No one nods or shakes their head.

After it ends, no one is motivated to work.

If someone wants to do it, they do it. I didn’t say I would do it, nor did I say I wouldn’t.

Let’s just leave it as it is for now, and we’ll see.

Things just stay where they are.

During meetings, have you ever thought about one thing?

Do the employees understand what you’re saying?

Or rather, do they really comprehend it?

Employees manage themselves through internal communication mechanisms. The brain sends signals to the hands without any loss of information.

But when superiors manage employees through external communication mechanisms, the brain’s influence on others’ brains results in significant information loss.

The signal you’re transmitting is: “Help.”

The signal employees receive might be: “I’m great.”

You’re thinking of a tiger, but employees might understand it as a cat.

You’re talking about a phoenix, but employees might understand it as a chicken.

What can be done?

Meetings must reach a consensus.

Even the best strategy cannot be executed without consensus.

What happens without consensus?

“This matter can be handled however we want.”

“That matter might not be important, so let’s just do it casually.”

These are instructions imposed without mutual communication, not consensus. They are not

respected and are rejected.

Without consensus, actions become distorted, and execution becomes compromised.

So, do you have consensus with your vice presidents, directors, and managers who lead the team?

Do your subordinates truly understand your strategy? Do they wholeheartedly accept your instructions? Do they perceive your goodwill?

Do you have the patience to explain and discuss the underlying strategic intent and interests with your employees? Can you convey your goodwill?

To avoid this situation, you can use a meeting tool to help you get over with. has a feedback section that everyone can express their ideas if they agree or disagree.

Moreover, in most cases, based on the information employees possess, their experiences, existing cognitive systems, and hierarchical structures, it is highly probable that they cannot fully understand your intentions through a single expression or one meeting.

Furthermore, inefficient meetings cannot generate good plans.

After discussions end, many people do not fully agree with the plan, resulting in compromised work and even covert resistance.

03-No output, what a waste

What is a meeting?

A meeting is essentially a business model, just like any other business activity. It is an economic game with inputs and outputs.

The inputs of a meeting are the time costs of all participants.

The outputs of a meeting are a set of conclusions, such as consensus among all participants or collaborative ideas.

A meeting is a business model that exchanges time for conclusions.

However, many of our meetings are highly inefficient.

After the meeting, you ask if anyone remembers what the key points were today.

It feels like everyone remembers, yet it also feels like nothing was remembered.

Just five minutes after sitting down and turning on the computer in the morning, followed by lunch meetings, recruitment meetings, brainstorming meetings, training meetings, project meetings, sharing meetings, transformation meetings, and so on…

A whole day is wasted.

A few hours of meetings, and it feels like nothing was accomplished.

You turn on the computer, and the screen still shows the startup animation from 9:00 in the morning.

Employees silently write down their to-do list for tomorrow.

Today’s output after 8 hours of work:


04-How to conduct efficient meetings?

Here are some suggestions for conducting efficient meetings:

1.Follow the eight “musts” from Samsung’s meeting organization experience:

  • Every meeting must be prepared for.
  • Every meeting must have a clear agenda.
  • Every meeting must follow a set of rules and discipline.
  • Every meeting must have a defined agenda.
  • Every meeting must produce outcomes or conclusions.
  • Every meeting must provide training or learning opportunities.
  • Every meeting must start and end on time.
  • Every meeting must be documented or recorded.

2.Use the three formulas for effective meetings:

  • Holding a meeting without follow-up and implementation is equivalent to zero.
  • Holding a meeting without checking on the progress of assigned tasks is equivalent to zero.
  • Holding a meeting where non-compliance is addressed and non-implementers are held accountable is the key to successful implementation. has a tool called action tracking, which can help all the team member to write down their actions to follow-up.

3.Break down goals into tasks:

Many companies hold meetings without actually solving problems. It’s important to review business data reports and analyze conclusions, reasons, and attributions accurately. Break down the goals into tasks that need to be accomplished each day to avoid losing focus and just going through the motions of a meeting.

4.Utilize effective meeting methodologies:

Having a meeting methodology helps guide the meeting process. For example, the Six Thinking Hats method allows participants to think from different perspectives represented by different colored hats

  • White Hat: Focus on information and data gathering.
  • Yellow Hat: Focus on positive aspects, benefits, and opportunities.
  • Red Hat: Allow for emotional and intuitive responses.
  • Green Hat: Encourage creativity and generate new ideas.
  • Black Hat: Focus on potential problems, challenges, and risks.
  • Blue Hat: Manage the thinking process and ensure effective time allocation.

By using this methodology, participants can thoroughly explore each aspect of the discussion and foster collaborative thinking.

These suggestions can help make meetings more efficient and productive.


Effective meetings can greatly improve team collaboration and communication efficiency. Inefficient meetings, characterized by formalism, pose challenges to organizational synergy and leave people exhausted. Valuable working time is wasted in endless meetings. The problem lies not in meetings themselves, but in the ineffective approaches that lead to low efficiency. Some meetings lack logic and focus. They often last for an hour without getting to the main topic. To conduct productive meetings, focus on discussing outcomes, progress, plans, and issues. Communicate with facts and data. Meetings are meant to solve problems. They are not for showcasing ideas or storytelling. When the team is together, address problems, engage in open communication, and trust each other. If assistance is needed, ask for it. Stick to discussing relevant matters and adjourn the meeting when there is nothing else to address. Stop wasting precious time in futile meetings. Don’t let meetings turn into theatrical performances.

Author: Ashley Mitchell

Team meeting expert with over 10 years of experience in facilitating productive and engaging meetings. Ashley’s passion for effective communication and teamwork has led her to become a sought-after consultant and speaker in the field of team meeting management.

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