It seems that meetings are more of a necessary evil than ever. With employees being asked to do more with less, meetings make matters worse by stealing precious time away from project deadlines. And all too often, meetings become dysfunctional when distractions like email and phone calls beg to be answered.

If your team dreads the thought of another meeting, consider these tips for changing things up and getting more value out of your conference time.

  1. Meet with Purpose – Examine routine meetings and decide if each meeting has a specific agenda and purpose. If not, consider changing the schedule or frequency of meetings to make sure each meeting is advancing the organization’s strategic goals.
  2. Make Meetings a Conversation – If meetings have turned into a lecture series, have other team members present or even lead the discussion on specific topics.
  3. Maintain Focus – Make sure everyone knows that your meetings are designed for full engagement and the best use of time. Don’t allow extraneous conversations or replies to emails, texts and phone calls during your meetings.
  4. Focus on the Future – Don’t spend too much time discussing things that aren’t going well. Instead, focus on creating new ideas and planning future actions.
  5. Timing is Everything – Avoid meeting times that take away from the most productive hours of the day and schedule afternoon meetings when escaping cubicles and offices is a welcome break.
  6. Meeting Format Change Up – Consider taking a break from the conference room and meet outside or even in a walking format to stimulate participants. Look into virtual formats like Google Hangouts so producers can maintain productivity if other projects are discussed. Also, interject some humor into your meetings with a YouTube video or best joke contest to disarm negative stigmas about meetings.

Looking for more tips? Find them at Entrepreneur.