Meetings are getting worse and worse. Both in-person and virtual meetings seem be losing steam and the mindshare of most participants. How do we get this train back on track? Here are a few tips to consider as you ensure your meetings are time worth spent:

1. Turn all cell phones to meeting mode: This does not exist yet, however we have submitted a request to Apple to move-up this feature on their development list. For now, request that all meeting participants shift their mobile devices to airplane mode and you will be one step closer to a more focused and engaging meeting.

2. Grab a marker!: Not just the meeting leader or facilitator should hold a marker. See how the dynamic shifts–especially during a brainstorming or ideation session–when everyone holds a marker and feels like he or she can add to the whiteboard at any time.

3. Re-invent the introduction: Spending 30 – 60 seconds per person to get a sense of what “baggage” or issues each person might be thinking about beyond the current conversation; this allows for each participant to feel supported by their teammates and increases the probability of a more focused dialogue.

4. Set the table by sharing the agenda: The meeting leader or conductor should always share the plan. Although this is quite obvious, it’s amazing how often this is forgotten. Use this typical format as a starter template:
1. Introductions
2. Context
3. Objective(s)
4. Topic One, Two, Three, etc.
5. Review of Commitments/Next Steps

5. Don’t forget the dessert!: Each participant should verbalize their assigned action items or next steps. Sharing this list strengthens their sense of accountability, gives an opportunity for someone to request additional clarity and provides the bookend most people typically need for a more effective meeting.

Meetings are great opportunities for leaders and communicators to position themselves and their personal brands as more strategic. Do yourself a favor and never miss an opportunity to level-up!