Not another meeting! We all want to roll our eyes at times when we hear our time has been packed with meetings. Whether you’re the one running the meeting, or you’re just attending, you can make the most of the time spent meeting with other people by following a few simple suggestions described by Kevin Daum in his recent article for Inc.com.

In Advance

Daum explains that the most productive workers have figured out how to get the most out of meetings. Their strategy is based on a little advanced planning. This planning can work for you, too. As a sales rep, you’re used to getting together with prospects in presentation meetings. Or you may be meeting with clients to discuss their concerns as they use your product. You can make sure the meeting goes well by asking ahead of time for a list of attendees.  If you know the attendees, you’ll know what to expect – for example, what their objections are likely to be. Research social media profiles for any attendees you don’t know. Understanding their role in an organization can also help you understand the concerns they’re likely to raise.

During the Meeting

There are folks in any meeting who seem to enjoy hijacking the agenda. These may be folks who like to hear the sound of their own voices or they may have legitimate concerns. Either way, once they get control of a conversation, they can go on and on. Whether you’re an attendee or this is your meeting, try to steer the conversation back to the agenda.

If it’s your meeting, show you are making progress. As you complete an agenda item, make sure to acknowledge the fact. This strategy lets attendees know you’re moving down a list, and they’re getting close to the end of the meeting.

If you are planning a meeting with colleagues, and you know the attendees will be anxious to get back to work, consider employing a strategy that is common in today’s start-ups. Hold a stand-up meeting. Keeping everyone on their feet signals this is a brief get together where the focus is on quickly sharing information or soliciting input.

Closing the Meeting

During the meeting, stay focused on the outcome and jot down what you think people are agreeing to. Even if you are a participant, when the meeting draws to a close, state what you think the outcome of the meeting is – especially if action items have been assigned to you.

These few simple steps will help you avoid a negative outcome which Daum references when he mentions Patrick Lencioni’s book: Death by Meeting.