9 Unique Ways to Add Value to Meetings

Meetings don’t have to be boring! Learn how to add value to meetings to make them more productive and exciting.

Chances are, you’re regularly asked about the return on investment (ROI) of various activities or expenditures in your organization. But have you ever been asked about the ROI of your meetings? Any manager who’s looking to be a little more informed on how they’re spending time and money should look at meeting ROI and see how to make the most out of it. A great place to start is by trying to add value to the meetings you already have! 

The importance of adding value to meetings

Because of their frequency of occurrence, meetings are one of many things that can have large direct and indirect costs to your organization. In each meeting, the indirect cost is calculated by adding up all of the hourly salaries of any attendees. Direct costs associated with meetings include the cost to book the room, the technologies and products that support the meeting (for example, Zoom), and any costs of getting attendees to the meeting site (for example, parking fees outside the building). 

Yet, over 60% of employees multitask when attending virtual calls and approximately 50% of meeting time is spent on irrelevant topics. In other words, anytime meetings aren’t used to generate new value for the organization, managers risk losing a significant share of productivity. 

How to determine what meetings are of value

Meetings are a fantastic place for colleagues to collaborate, brainstorm, align, present results, and get decisions made. They can also be used to benefit team culture as well as help businesses meet their success metrics! To determine if your meetings are of value, leverage a tool like Fellow to calculate the cost of your meetings and determine if you’re earning good meeting ROI through completed action plans, improvements in team culture, better alignment on collective goals, and higher success rates on project objectives.

Find out how much it costs to bring your team together

Calculate the cost of your meetings with Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator. Did you know that people who use Fellow spend 16% less time in meetings? Try Fellow for free today!

9 ways to add value to meetings

1Keep meetings short

The best way to see a high ROI in your meetings is to keep them short. With less time, your team is forced to progress efficiently through your talking points. On the same note, don’t make your meetings so short that you can’t have a fruitful discussion! Ideally, most meetings should be around the 30-minute mark, but never over an hour. If the meeting topic is really large and needs more than one hour, break the conversation into several smaller meetings over a few days. 

If you want to increase team productivity, Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines feature set helps eliminate back to back meetings by making them speedy. With this feature, meeting organizers are automatically prompted to shorten the meetings they’re creating by 5 – 10 minutes, so attendees can get a break in between meetings. Less meeting fatigue, and more time for deep work!

2Use a collaborative meeting agenda

A meeting agenda is a collaborative space for your team to add ideas about what should be discussed. If the agenda is being built by multiple participants, the meeting host should organize this at least several days in advance so the final version is ready at least one business day ahead of the call. When more team members can contribute discussion topics, the level of engagement increases and it’s more likely that you’ll cover relevant points that will help move your team forward! 

3Only invite people who provide value

The opportunity cost of attending any given meeting is having the time to conduct deep focus work, take a mental health break, or attend a different meeting that earns different value. If an employee is joining a call on which they won’t provide any value, they’re actually likely to be more productive spending their time on another effort. Not only does this help drive productivity for the individual who is no longer attending, but it also allows the team to spend the meeting time making decisions and setting action items than explaining meeting topics to uninformed attendees. 

Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines feature set helps you ensure only the most essential attendees are in your meetings. If a meeting has more than 7 attendees, Fellow will send the meeting organizer a prompt to remove additional attendees, or mark them as optional.

4Assign meeting roles 

Meeting roles help give your team a sense of purpose, organization, and responsibility during collaboration time. As a result, you’ll see meeting engagement climb! Some of the common roles you can adopt include the:

  • Host, who leads the call
  • Organizer, who books the meeting time and shares details in advance
  • Timekeeper, who ensures the meeting stays on track
  • Note-taker, who writes meeting minutes (if you’re not using an AI meeting assistant!)
  • Decision maker, who helps break ties or approve decisions

5Assign meeting action items

Every single meeting should conclude by spending time assigning action items. This practice helps ensure that you have tangible next steps for your team to focus on. You should also specify who is responsible for completing each item and by when. The more specific you are with your assignments, the more likely they’ll be completed to your expectations! In the next call related to the meeting topic, you can start by reviewing progress on previously assigned action items to make sure you’re moving closer to your goals. 

6Encourage questions

A great way to drive up meeting engagement is by asking questions. If your team is new, shy, or has a hard time generating questions in the moment, it can be worthwhile to share your expectations for questions when you distribute the meeting agenda. This allows your team members to do some research and prepare questions ahead of time. Additionally, you can further accommodate your team by enabling participants to submit questions either out loud or through an online chat that’s integrated into your video conferencing software.

7Share the meeting agenda beforehand

Your most valuable meetings will be the ones where your employees are well prepared in advance. Sharing the meeting agenda at least one day before the meeting allows participants to see what is expected of them during the call, view their meeting roles, read any preparation documentation or resources, and prepare any of their own content to present in the call. If your meeting agenda is collaborative with your team, you can start building it as soon as the meeting purpose is defined. 

8Only plan a meeting when it is needed

Remote teams often struggle with the feeling of needing to book meetings frequently as a way to boost team morale and alignment. However, meetings aren’t always the best solution, especially as they can lead to context switching and burnout if they’re held too often or at the last minute. To avoid this, write a meeting purpose statement that outlines the goals for each call before scheduling it. 

Tim Magwood shared his insights on purposeful meetings, saying, 

“I think there are too many meetings that we are in as leaders that don’t have a clear purpose. If we are subtracting things to place an emphasis more on, you know, purposeful meetings that create connection, create community, create focus, that’s great.”

9Evaluate your recurring meetings

Shopify recently removed all recurring meetings from their calendar, which allowed their company to see huge gains in productivity! Recurring meetings encourage your team to attend calls regularly, even if there’s nothing to talk about that week. Instead, evaluate meetings that don’t provide as much meeting ROI and consider adjusting them to either occur at a lower frequency or generate better value. 

Setting an end date for your recurring meetings helps ensure that you evaluate your meeting needs on a regular basis. You can enable thoughtful meeting creation with Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines, which are baked-in to the tool to ensure recurring meetings are finite. When a recurring meeting that has no end is being made, the meeting organizer is prompted to add an end date.

How to add value to your meetings with Fellow

Fellow is a collaborative meeting management software that teams of all sizes and dynamics can use to generate more meeting value before, during, and after meetings. Before the meeting, Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines features calculate the cost of meetings based on salaries, help you decrease the number of attendees, and help you limit how often you meet. This makes sure you don’t have too many unnecessary meetings so that every meeting that is scheduled provides value. Fellow also encourages meeting attendees to come prepared to meetings with pre-meeting reminders that prompt attendees to add to the agenda.

During the meeting, Fellow ensures value by having all meeting attendees follow the same collaborative meeting agenda. On this agenda, attendees can take collaborative notes and assign meeting action items to foster transparency and accountability. Additionally, Fellow’s AI meeting assistant takes care of recording and transcribing meetings so participants can stay focused and engaged in the discussion. 

After the meeting, Fellow’s AI meeting summaries, paired with recordings and full AI meeting transcriptions are all in one place, keeping everyone on the same page. For example, all attendees can have an accurate record of discussions and all stakeholders can stay the loop, even when they’re not in the meeting. Fellow is a central repository for all meeting records so everyone is aligned and follow-ups are clear.

Wajiha A, in a G2 Review, shared how they’ve made use of Fellow:

“Fellow has changed the way I view meetings at work. Before, I would take messy and scrambled notes in a ‘Notes’ app or Word doc and often lose action items or forget to send out agendas beforehand. With Fellow, I have everything I need in one place: the agenda for attendees to view, notes during the meeting, and the ability to assign action items which has been a massive game-changer in holding myself and others accountable post-meetings. I can also view ALL action items from past and recent meetings, and checking my ‘to-dos’ off is simple and makes me feel accomplished each time I check off a box!”

Parting advice

There’s no doubt that meetings can be valuable. But to consistently generate a high amount of value from your meetings, you’ll need to practice being very intentional with how you spend your meeting time (and with whom). To learn more about where your existing meetings can improve, a good starting place is by collecting feedback from your team. Chances are, they already have some ideas for how to pull more meeting value out of the calls that are already on your schedule! As you optimize your meeting ROI, continuously request feedback from your team to make sure they’re seeing the improvements in value, too.

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About the author

Alexandria Hewko

Alexandria Hewko, holding a Master's of Digital Transformation & Innovation at the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor's of International Business from Carleton University, brings a rich blend of international marketing, business management, and IT expertise to her writing. Founder of a travel blog in 2018 and an experienced global marketer in the tech and consumer electronics sectors, Alexandria excels at illuminating lesser-discussed topics through compelling storytelling.

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