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For most of us meetings are a drag and a waste of time, yet new research and technology are coming forward to change the way we meet and what we get out of meeting.

Tie up your laces.

Research done by the US military as well as academic institutions has shown that standing or walking meetings are more efficient and productive. The main reason these types of meetings seem to help is that they eliminate distractions. Too often, people seated around a table divert their attention to their computers and phones. When standing or walking, focus is fixed. Of course, documenting your action items and what was discussed needs to adapt too. Success can be found by using voice memos or dictation.

Huddle up

Not all meetings are alike. For example, some are for strategic planning, while others are for status updates. Yet another kind of meeting is for quick decisions and consolidating information (versus multiple, iterative emails). This last type of meeting often follows the same scheduling and process as the other types. This need not be the case though. When quick action or coordination is required, simply call a huddle. These brief meetings need only last a few minutes and can be schedule on the fly. They can take place around the water cooler or in someone’s cube.. If consistent ground rules are employed (e.g., minimal time spent, only key stake holders attend, anyone can ask for a more formal meeting), these spontaneous meetings can be very effective.

There’s an app for that.

New tools for managing meetings are coming out all of the time. Here are two of my favorites:

  • Do.com: This web app allows you to schedule meetings leveraging, include agendas, and track meeting notes easily. Additionally, it allows you to run meetings via tools like Google Hang Outs and Skype.
  • Zeetings: This app is fantastic for real-time, virtual collaboration, but its real value is keeping the meeting alive after people have left. It provides a highly interactive environment that is easy to use.

It is now easier than ever to meet effectively and efficiently.