Ah, the dreaded business meeting. All businesses have them, and invariably a good percentage of them don’t have any real outcomes. In fact, Nancy Koehen of the Harvard Business School did a survey and found that, “Over half of the people surveyed say about half the meetings they attend are unproductive.”

So how can you make your business meetings more productive? Here at Journyx we’ve come up with a few Time Tricks for scheduling and leading meetings.

Use Other Tools

First thing first: do you need to schedule a meeting? Many meetings can be handled through email, IM, or quick face-to-face conversations between the pertinent parties. And if you decide that a meeting is necessary, then make sure to only invite the people directly involved.

Prepare for It

Make sure to have the meeting’s objectives outlined before the start of the meeting. You can also circulate information packets to the attendees and find a way to have attendees submit questions and ideas. This way, all parties will be informed and ready to make decisions when the meeting starts. As Seth Godin says, “Don’t bother having a meeting if you’re not there to change or make a decision right now.”

Limit Distractions

Don’t schedule your meeting in a room that’s far removed from the attendees’ offices or far too big or small for the number of people involved. Instead pick a convenient, appropriately sized location and remove all potential distractions, including food, cell phones, and even chairs! Standing meetings are usually more productive, as seen in this study where the standing group came to a decision in 34% less time than the sitting group.

Track Meeting Time

Figure out the key objectives to your meeting and then assign a time estimate to each objective. Track your time as the meeting progresses and enforce the time limits for each objective – time estimates don’t do any good unless they are enforced. To keep things moving along without interruption consider using a “talking object” so that only one person is speaking at one time.

Take Minutes and Assign Actions

Make sure that someone takes minutes for you meeting; ideally this should be the same person every week for consistency. Additionally, everyone at the meeting should be assigned specific actions based on the conclusions reached during the meeting. These actions should have specific scopes and deadlines, and they should be recorded with the minutes.

Meetings are often unnecessary and unproductive. But if you take these Time Tricks into account, you can have quick, productive meetings in no time.