Meetings can seem like they take forever – a long waste of too many people's time – but there are ways to get the most out of them by ensuring they are run correctly. 

It's too often that eyes begin to droop and smart phones begin to slide out of pockets during long, seemingly pointless and boring meetings. Meetings can definitely seem like a waste of time and the bane of productivity, but there are ways that small business owners can ensure staff discussions run efficiently. If you want your employees moving like a motor rather than molasses when they leave a meeting, then there are a few tips you can keep in mind in order to make sure meetings are effective. For advice on how to run a productive meeting, read the guidelines below:

1. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting
Make sure that every meeting you organize has a clear and defined goal, Forbes suggested. Before you start sending out invitations for a meeting, you have to make sure you know exactly what the purpose of the discussion is. Don't gather your staff just because you feel it is time to do so. Are you trying to implement a major change in direction, or maybe you'd like to review last quarter's numbers? If you want your employees to get something out of a meeting, make sure there is something important to discuss. 

2. Everyone must be prepared
Once you've decided on an objective for a meeting, make sure that you, and all of your employees, are prepared to discuss the designated topics in detail. GovLeaders suggested handing out an agenda that details discussion topics the day before the meeting. In addition, ensure that any other relevant information is easily accessible. Also, be sure that if a meeting organizer, or yourself, has forgotten to distribute materials, that your employees know that they can ask questions about what the upcoming meeting will focus on. 

3. You don't need to invite each and every member of your staff
Who actually has to be at this meeting you've organized, and who has absolutely nothing to do with the topics you listed in your agenda? Forbes noted that this is another question you should consider before sending out invitations to a meeting. If you're restructuring the accounting department, then why are you inviting everyone in marketing to the meeting? If you're going over your financial plan, you probably won't need to call in the cleaning crew. If people feel that the discussion isn't really relevant to them, they will get the impression that the meeting is a waste of time. 

4. Don't let the meeting slip off schedule
If you have designated a start and end time for a meeting, then don't deviate from that, according to GovLeaders. This will require some discipline, but it will ultimately be beneficial. If your staff is aware that you will be there on time, they will also make more of an effort to be timely. And just as it is important to start on time, always make sure that your meetings are ending in a timely fashion as well. While covering everything on the agenda is important, so is finishing the meeting when you say it will end. This is where some discipline will come into play. Your employees will be appreciative when you demonstrate to them that you understand their time is valuable.

Stop getting sucked into meeting wormholes that kill your day, as well as that of your employees. Using the above guidelines, you can make sure that each meeting you have is productive and effective.