We tried 5 meeting hacks. Here's what worked.

Kathleen Escarcha, staff writerKathleen Escarcha, staff writer

Unnecessary and unproductive meetings are not only a waste of time—they're a waste of your organization's money.

Luckily, there's no shortage of tips that aim to help you lead an effective and efficient meeting. But combing through the seemingly hundreds of meeting tips can feel more like a time suck than a time saver. And while some strategies look great on paper, they don't always integrate well into your day-to-day routine.

To help you distinguish between the time savers and time wasters, we asked folks at EAB to put a few of the most popular meeting hacks to the test. Here's what worked and what didn't.

Hack 1: Use power language

What was your experience like? Overall, my experience with power language was positive! I used EAB-specific terminology and only used the terms to emphasize really important points.

Would you recommend it? I would recommend it, with a light touch. If you throw buzzwords into every other sentence, you risk seeming phony. Instead, customize your active words to your company terminology. – Aly Seidel, web editor

Hack 2: Encourage attendee participation

What was your experience like? Every Monday morning, I create a detailed meeting agenda and lead my team of marketing associates in a discussion about our goals for the coming week. This Monday, however, I showed up empty handed and let my team lead the conversation. My associates understood exactly what we needed to discuss and the momentum from our meeting led to a productive week.

Would you recommend it? Absolutely. This was a low-barrier way to boost engagement from my team and empower them to set the tone for the week. – Eli Franco, manager

Hack 3: Leave your devices behind

What was your experience like? At first, I was terrified. I often use my laptop to take notes or to reference documents during a meeting. For note-taking, I switched to pencil and paper. I forgot how much easier it is to remember something once you physically write it down, which was a definite benefit of going digital-free. However, I keep my to-dos on my laptop, so I had to transfer my notes back into my computer after the meeting.

Would you recommend it? My experience going digital free felt hit or miss—for some meetings, like check-ins, it provided a necessary distraction-free environment. For others, I felt less prepared since I didn’t have access to my laptop. The week did force me to at least ask the question: do I really need my laptop for this? – Kate Sheka, senior retention marketing manager

Hack 4: Take a meeting for a walk

What was your experience like? Taking a one-on-one check-in for a walk was an extremely productive experience. Being outside got our creative juices flowing and we came up with some great, out-of-the-box ideas. Afterwards, we sat down for a coffee, which helped strengthen our relationship as teammates.

Would you recommend it? I would highly recommend a walking meeting. – Izzy Sobel, senior manager

Also see: How to lead less miserable meetings

Hack 5: Send next steps in follow up

What was your experience like? I only jot down key words or ideas during my check-ins with my editor. My shorthand makes sense in the moment, but can be difficult to decipher later on. This week, I condensed my notes into a few takeaways and shared them with my editor. The process helped me identify my top priorities for the week and ensured that my editor and I were on the same page about my goals.

Would you recommend it? I usually only have one meeting each week, so sending next steps only took me ten minutes. If your work week includes back-to-back meetings, I suggest sharing the responsibility with your teammates. When it's your turn to send next steps, draft the takeaways immediately after, so the main points are still fresh in your mind. – Kathleen Escarcha, staff writer

Related: 7 types of meetings to cancel right now


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