How often are your meetings productive? Be honest.

Between meeting attendees arriving late and your coworker loudly typing an email at the other end of the conference table, it can be hard to stay focused. If you're holding a video meeting, it can be even more challenging to manage your time effectively.

The State of Remote Work 2021 revealed that businesses are changing their meeting technology, meeting spaces, and employee expectations to improve meetings for all employees. 64% of survey respondents working from home chose hybrid video conferencing calls as their preferred meeting style. 7 in 10 employees who WFH felt that remote meetings made it easier to present to a group and less stressful, and 66% felt that they make meetings more equal, and make it easier to contribute effectively.

Without the right tools and workplace culture, it's harder for all employees to feel they can participate in conversations, and to communicate deadlines and deliverables. Technical problems can stop those attending remotely from hearing or seeing everything in the meeting room, creating an unequal experience. According to a survey from online collaboration company Wrike, 46% of employees leave meetings feeling like they don’t know what the next action item is. 

[Free Templates] Download 15 Meeting Agenda Templates >>

With a few strategies, tools, and meeting rules, video meetings can be successful, collaborative, and inclusive for all attendees. The pandemic showed the world that people can be successful at work no matter where they are working from. 90% of employees feel they are the same or more productive when working from home — but the number one challenge for those who work from home on hybrid video calls is that they can’t tell who is speaking in the physical room. 

There is a gap in the meeting experience for remote employees if their organization doesn’t invest in an intentional culture of inclusivity and collaboration, independent of location. The more efficient video meetings are for all involved, the more productive they are, improving the overall experience for everyone in the organization.

Why make video meetings more efficient? 

Video meetings rose 50% during the pandemic and companies need to look at how much time their employees are spending on meetings, and how meeting time is spent. The top reason employees are motivated to attend meetings is if they are well-planned, and one in five workers thinks that the best way for them to get more work done is to have fewer meetings.

In 2021, one-third of employees report that they always or often experience challenges during video calls, and only 38% of employers have upgraded their video meeting technology to improve hybrid collaboration. There is an employee expectation for more efficient meetings with intuitive technology that companies will need to address to maintain employee satisfaction and achieve hiring and retention goals.

Best Practices for Setting Up a Video Meeting

When setting up a video conferencing meeting, choose a video meeting platform that works across devices and has a simple user interface for attendees. Use a tool that doesn’t require an app download in case any attendees are temporarily using a new device or traveling and need to call in. 

Consider meeting attendees’ time zones, and ensure that all members of the meeting are able to see, hear, and participate. Send out materials like a meeting agenda, call for agenda items, meeting link, and meeting invitation well in advance so those with flexible schedules are able to plan accordingly.

Sample Meeting Invitation with Agenda


We are excited to gather [this group] to discuss [project] on [date]. 

Here are the meeting details, along with the meeting agenda, which includes required reading and supplementary materials. Please add any additional agenda items prior to the meeting date. 

Meeting link/sign-in information: [Zoom/Teams/etc. link, sign-in information, password, and call-in numbers]

Meeting agenda: [meeting agenda link]

Pre-meeting to-dos: Please review the files [file 1], [file 2], and [file 3] and come prepared with ideas for [project]. 

Following the meeting, we will discuss action items + next steps in [Slack channel] and via email. 

Looking forward to our conversation!

For technical questions/scheduling concerns, please contact [email].



1. Send a meeting agenda to all attendees in advance.

Use a meeting agenda template when you set up a video meeting. Meeting agendas help the meeting stay on track, create a more equitable experience that doesn’t rely on physically being in the office, and maintain organization by creating documentation of the meeting notes for all to use.

2. Make sure your equipment is working properly.

The most common reason for long video meetings is the inability to get your video technology to function. With multiple pieces of hardware and software linked together, it's difficult to diagnose a problem and fix it quickly. If you test your equipment before your meeting, you're more likely to negate any problems that come up.

Remember which pieces are the peskiest, and make sure they're working before hopping on a video meeting. By spending five minutes to set up before your video meeting, you'll save you and your colleagues time. Run through a list of hardware to check beforehand so you're prepared for the meeting.

Use a product that combines multiple hardware pieces into one package, like the Meeting Owl — it's another solution to minimize potential hang-ups on your video meetings. With fewer hardware pieces to worry about, you'll be able to hop into your meeting agenda quicker.

Shop all collaborative team tools from Owl Labs >>

3. Schedule meetings when employees will be most productive.

You won't get the most out of your meetings if your employees aren't at their peak productivity. According to the State of Meetings Report, employees most prefer meetings in the morning. Mornings allow for employees to be fresh and open to new ideas, without being distracted from multiple projects that accumulate throughout the day.

Take a poll of your own office as well to see what times work best for everyone, and schedule accordingly. With your employees at their most alert, your meetings will be at peak efficiency while making everyone happy.

4. Use collaborative tools to share documents and files in real-time.

Tools like Slack, Google Suite, and Dropbox facilitate interactive collaboration and can be used to send over documents and files without writing up an email. Build and edit slide decks with your colleague on the other end of the video and see what you're doing instantly.

These tools and services keep you from waiting on deliverables or going back and forth in massive email chains over minute details. You'll get your work completed as quickly as possible with time to spare for other projects. Here is a list of the video meeting tools we've found to be most helpful.

5. Appoint a meeting facilitator to stay on top of your time.

You only have so many minutes for your video meeting, and you want to use every one of them efficiently. To stop meetings from going off track, use some productivity tools. The first is a meeting facilitator

A meeting facilitator is responsible for running meetings smoothly while making sure every point fits into the proper amount of time. A good meeting facilitator keeps track of the discussion topics and keeps attendees to their time limits by guiding the conversation.

The meeting facilitator can use the meeting agenda as a space to take notes and document action items or next steps. 

6. Keep things concise.

Meetings that drag on are the enemy of productivity. Luckily, there are ways to set up video meetings that'll keep you in the room for only as long as you need.

Use the pre-created meeting agenda to keep meetings on schedule. Outline what the meeting is about, who is responsible for what, and how long the meeting will take. The key here is simplicity. Don't add anything more than what is necessary. Including too many people in your meeting can make discussions unnecessarily complicated. Remember, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Don't book longer meetings than necessary. Your coworkers are busy, and you are too. Available meeting space is often hard to find and book in most offices, so sharing it with everyone else is best practice. Set calendar alerts to remind you how much time you have left in your meeting so you can stay on track without running over.

7. Practice meeting etiquette.

Meeting etiquette isn't only polite, but saves time as well. Showing up on time to your scheduled video meeting will get you started on time, as well as showing respect to those on the other line. Waiting for five minutes for a participant to come online makes minds wander, and you'll have a harder time getting people focused on the discussion topic.

Staying focused on your meeting and not distracting others is also key. When one person stops paying attention, it spreads like wildfire. People feel less responsible to also follow along closely, and your meeting will spiral out of control. It'll be much harder to get back on track and finish tasks in the timeframe you've booked for our meeting. 

Don't be afraid to speak up when you feel the conversation is moving away from what work is at hand, referencing the agenda as a way to stay focused.

8. Don't arrange a call if something simpler would suffice.

Although tools like Zoom and the Meeting Owl make it easy to hop on a call to discuss projects and answer questions, sometimes a video meeting isn't necessary.

Use video conferencing tools when a Slack message or email doesn't suffice. When you find yourself writing multiple paragraphs, or think a topic would be easier to discuss "face-to-face," then a video meeting is a good idea. If the issue isn't pressing or doesn't require more than a couple of sentences for clarification, you're better off with a written out message.

Hosting a productive video meeting can sound challenging, but these small fixes will reap huge benefits to you and your company. By minimizing wasted time, you can maximize your effort into the rest of your work and other projects. At the end of the day, you don't need to be doing anything extra to get the most out of a video meeting.

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