How often are your meetings productive? Be honest. 

Between meeting attendees arriving late and your coworker loudly typing an email at the other end of the conference table, it can be hard to stay focused. If you're holding a video meeting, it can be even more challenging to manage your time effectively.

People are more likely to multitask and miss a point if they don't have someone next to them to hold them accountable. It's harder to communicate deadlines and deliverables, and technical problems can stop those attending remotely from hearing or seeing everything in the meeting room. According to the online collaboration company Wrike, 46% of those surveyed answered "rarely", "never", or "some of the time" when asked if they leave meetings knowing what the next action item is.

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However, if you follow a few basic rules, your video meetings will be successful. The best video meetings the ones where everything planned and scheduled to make effective use of the time. Workers are busier than ever and staying on a long video call isn't ideal. So, here are a few ways to help make sure your meetings are as productive as possible.

1. Make sure your equipment is working properly.

The most common reason for long video meetings is the inability to get your video technology to function. With multiple pieces of hardware and software linked together, it's difficult to diagnose a problem and fix it quickly. If you test your equipment before your meeting, you're more likely to negate any problems that come up.

Remember which pieces are the peskiest, and make sure they're working before hopping on a video meeting. By spending five minutes to set up before your video meeting, you'll save you and your colleagues time. Run through a list of hardware to check beforehand so you're prepared for the meeting.

Use a product that combines multiple hardware pieces into one package, like the Meeting Owl Pro— it's another solution to minimize potential hang-ups on your video meetings. With fewer hardware pieces to worry about, you'll be able to hop into your meeting agenda quicker.

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2. Schedule meetings when employees will be most productive.

You won't get the most out of your meetings if your employees aren't at their peak productivity. According to the State of Meetings Report, employees most prefer meetings in the morning. Mornings allow for employees to be fresh and open to new ideas, without being distracted from multiple projects that accumulate throughout the day.

Take a poll of your own office as well to see what times work best for everyone, and schedule accordingly. With your employees at their most alert, your meetings will be at peak efficiency while making everyone happy.

3. Use collaborative tools to share documents and files in real-time.

Tools like Slack, Google Suite, and Dropbox facilitate interactive collaboration and can be used to send over documents and files without writing up an email. Build and edit slide decks with your colleague on the other end of the video and see what you're doing instantly.

These tools and services keep you from waiting on deliverables or going back and forth in massive email chains over minute details. You'll get your work completed as quickly as possible with time to spare for other projects. Here is a list of the tools we've found to be most helpful.

4. Appoint a meeting facilitator to stay on top of your time.

You only have so many minutes for your video meeting, and you want to use every one of them efficiently. To stop meetings from going off track, use some productivity tools. The first is a meeting facilitator. A meeting facilitator is responsible for running meetings smoothly while making sure every point fits into the proper amount of time. A good meeting facilitator keeps track of the discussion topics and keeps attendees to their time limits by guiding the conversation.

One tool that makes a great meeting facilitator is an agenda. Forming an agenda before a meeting keeps everyone aware of subject material, and saves time from unnecessary and irrelevant brainstorms. An agenda also integrates those attending remotely, as they can view discussion points ahead of time and feel ready to tackle them. With both of these tools in use, you'll never run over time again.

5. Keep things concise.

Meetings that drag on are the enemy of productivity. Luckily, there are ways to set up the video meetings that'll keep you in the room for only as long as you need.

Set a meeting agenda before any meeting takes place. Outline what the meeting is about, who is responsible for what, and how long the meeting will take. The key here is simplicity. Don't add anything more than what is necessary. Including too many people in your meeting can make discussions unnecessarily complicated. Remember, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Don't book longer meetings than necessary. Your coworkers are busy, and you are too. Available meeting space is often hard to find and book in most offices, so sharing it with everyone else is best practice. Set calendar alerts to remind you how much time you have left in your meeting so you can stay on track without running over.

6. Practice meeting etiquette.

Meeting etiquette isn't only polite, but saves time as well. Showing up on-time to your scheduled video meeting will get you started on time, as well as showing respect to those on the other line. Waiting for five minutes for a participant to come online makes minds wander, and you'll have a harder time getting people focused on your subject on hand.

Staying focused on your meeting and not distracting others is also key. When one person stops paying attention, it spreads like wildfire. People feel less responsible to also follow along closely, and your meeting will spiral out of control. It'll be much harder to get back on track and finish tasks in the timeframe you've booked for our meeting. Don't be afraid to speak up when you feel the conversation is moving away from what work is at hand.

7. Don't arrange a call if something simpler would suffice.

Although tools like Zoom and the Meeting Owl Pro make it easy to hop on a call to discuss projects and answer questions, sometimes a video meeting isn't necessary.

Use video conferencing tools when a Slack message or email doesn't suffice. When you find yourself writing multiple paragraphs or a topic would be easier to discuss "face-to-face", then a video meeting is a good idea. If the issue isn't pressing or doesn't require more than a couple of sentences for clarification, you're better off with a written out message.

Hosting a productive video meeting can sound challenging, but these small fixes will reap huge benefits to you and your company. By minimizing wasted time, you can maximize your effort into the rest of your work and other projects. At the end of the day, you don't need to be doing anything extra to get the most out of a video meeting.

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