Let\u2019s be honest, almost no one likes meetings. They can be disruptive, tend to go on for too long and often feel like a waste of time.\nBut meetings don\u2019t have to be boring, drawn out affairs. Meetings, when done right, can produce new ideas, solve problems and help move projects forward.\nHere are 15 ways you can make your organization\u2019s meetings must-attend gatherings that make attendees feeling like they accomplished something.\n[ Related: How to make meetings more productive ]\n1. Determine if you really need to hold that meeting\n\u201cIf your meeting can be replaced by an email or a memo, don\u2019t hold it,\u201d says Ross Andrew Paquette, CEO, Maropost. \u201cSave meetings for when nothing else will do, for when you need people in the room, for when their presence is more than a courtesy but a contribution.\u201d\n\u201cI always encourage my teams to consider whether we really need a standalone meeting on a topic or if it can be covered in email, a quick hallway conversation or combined with an existing meeting,\u201d says Megan Kiester, vice president, HR products & technology, Expedia. \u201cIf a meeting is needed, I find that sometimes it\u2019s best to keep [it] short as the time constraint usually helps keep people focused and on task. People\u2019s time is valuable and someone who leads great meetings understands the importance of this.\u201d\n2. Avoid times when people are more likely to be distracted\nDon\u2019t call a meeting at the end of the day, when people would normally be getting ready to leave, or early in the morning, before the normal workday. Similarly, studies have shown that meetings held right before lunch, or during lunchtime without providing food, are less productive, as people tend to be hungry and distracted.\nThe best times \u2013 and days \u2013 to hold meetings? Between 9 and 11 or 2 and 4 Tuesday through Thursday.\n3. Invite the right people and ensure they understand why they\u2019re there\n\u201cSome leaders leave people out of meetings [who] should be in or invite people to meetings [who] don\u2019t need to be [there],\u201d says Halelly Azulay, founder & CEO, TalentGrow. So before calling the meeting, think about who really needs to be there and \u201cinvite only those who can contribute.\u201d Then \u201censure that [those] people understand why they\u2019re invited and how you\u2019d like them to participate.\u201d\n4. Create an agenda and email it to attendees in advance\n\u201cA successful meeting begins with an agenda sent at least two hours in advance that includes the required attendees and materials, topics to be discussed, goals and a start and stop time,\u201d says Don Joos, president & CEO, ShoreTel. \u201cThis ensures that the meeting produces concrete results.\u201d\nThen, \u201conce you\u2019re in the meeting, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see,\u201d says Charles Dugan, owner, American Image. \u201cThis keeps people focused.\u201d\n5. Offer incentives or rewards for attending\nAegis FinServ Corp is a prepaid debit card company. To get people to attend its meetings, the meeting leader places prepaid debit cards worth $5.00, $10.00, $25.00 and $50.00, as well as one card worth $100.00, or else gift cards (to local businesses and restaurants), in a bowl, one for every attendee. The result: \u201cWe always have 100 percent attendance,\u201d says Jim Angleton, president, Aegis FinServ Corp.\nBut you don\u2019t have to give out monetary rewards to encourage attendance. Often the promise of food and good coffee are enough.\n\u201cIf you feed them, they will come,\u201d says Deb Cohen, an HR consultant.\u00a0So \u201coffer either breakfast or lunch [or snacks], depending upon the time of the meeting,\u201d and let attendees know in advance there will be food (or treats).\u00a0\u00a0\n[ Related: 8 tips to make sure your staff meeting is worth the time ]\n6. Hold meetings in a bright, well-lit space with comfortable seating\n\u201cIf possible, [choose a room that gets plenty of] natural light and ensure that everyone has enough space to sit comfortably,\u201d says Jake Tully, head, Creative Department, TruckDrivingJobs.com. \u201cForcing people [to sit for an hour or more] in a fluorescent, cramped room is the definition of office meeting drudgery.\u201d\u00a0\n7. Eliminate distractions\nAsk attendees to leave all electronics (cell phones, laptops) back in their office or cubicle, unless they need their computer or tablet to present.\n8. Keep meetings short\nTry to keep meetings to no more than 30 minutes. People have short attention spans. By keeping meetings to 30 minutes, you have a better chance of holding people\u2019s attention.\n\n\t\n\nSimilarly, if possible, present \u201cin 5-minute chunks,\u201d says Kelly Bedrich, cofounder, Electricity Plans. \u201cOtherwise call a meeting to address a single, specific problem.\u201d\n9. Be prepared\n\u201cKnow the names (first and last) of those you\u2019re meeting with, do some research on the topic you\u2019re discussing (especially if you know it\u2019s one that you\u2019ll need to brainstorm ideas for) and be familiar with [the agenda and] timeline,\u201d says Deborah Sweeney, CEO,\u00a0MyCorporation.com.\n10. Don't be a slide-reader (and bore attendees)\n\u201cOne of my biggest pet peeves in meetings is when the host reads directly, verbatim, from the presentation they're sharing,\u201d says Richard Heby, content manager, LiquidSpace. \u201cThe point of a meeting is to offer insight on a topic, not just share a document, spreadsheet or deck.\n\u201cWhen presenting, hold your audience's attention by offering information that they can't immediately grasp from the presentation,\u201d he advises. \u201cShow them something they're not seeing. Otherwise you're providing no added value beyond the document itself.\u201d And you could have just sent them the presentation instead of forcing them to attend a meeting.\n11. Don\u2019t lecture\n\u201cIf your meeting consists of one person talking, you\u2019re not holding a meeting, you\u2019re holding a lecture,\u201d says Paquette. \u201cParticipation is what makes a meeting.\u201d So encourage people to ask questions or share information.\n12. Stay on topic\n\u201cA common mistake that meeting leaders make is being overly polite to attendees,\u201d says Joos. \u201cIf the conversation is getting off topic, don\u2019t be afraid to intervene and bring the conversation back to the outlined topics, and table any relevant points raised for a future discussion.\u201d\n13. Don\u2019t forget about virtual attendees\nIf you invite people to virtually attend your meeting, make sure the technology is in place for them to attend virtually (audio only or video) and then don\u2019t forget about them.\n\u201cWhen you\u2019re physically present in a meeting, you feel more included and more comfortable chiming in with your ideas and opinions,\u201d notes Pat Harper, CTO, PGi. However, \u201cwhen you\u2019re attending a meeting virtually, the lack of physical presence makes it more difficult to participate in the discussion.\u201d Therefore, meeting leaders \u201cshould make a habit of verbally checking in with remote workers as important questions are raised or key discussion topics are introduced, [so] virtual meeting members feel included.\u201d\u00a0\n14. Capture decisions, action items and next steps\n\u201cYou may have had a wildly productive meeting, but if the decisions weren't captured, it could be as if [the meeting] never happened, says Leigh Espy, project\/process advisor, FedEx. Therefore, it\u2019s important to \u201ccapture action items and target dates [during the meeting], along with the next steps the group identified to keep the momentum and progress [going]. Documenting and sharing these with others helps with communication and accountability. It provides a historical record if needed by your team. And everyone knows what's expected next.\u201d\n15. Do a quick recap at the end\n\u201cSpend the last two minutes clearly covering action items: who will cover them and a target date for when they\u2019ll be accomplished,\u201d says Bedrich. This way people will leave the meeting with a sense of purpose.