Originally appeared on Xerox Small Business Solutions.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Meetings are a necessary evil for every business. But when meetings get out of hand, your employees can end up spending more time in them than doing their actual work. That’s not good for their morale…or your bottom line.

Fortunately, there are ways you can make meetings more enjoyable, faster and more efficient. Try these tips for running better meetings at your business:

1. Minimize meetings whenever possible.

Try to reduce their frequency, their length and the number of attendees. Do you really need to hold an all-hands meeting every Monday, or would once a month suffice? Does the meeting need to be an hour-long, or could you finish it in 30 minutes? (Experts say holding meetings standing up is a great way to keep them brief, but frankly I think it’s a bad idea, making it nearly impossible for attendees to take notes.) Does a whole department need to attend a meeting or just the key people involved in a particular project?

2. Prepare properly.

When employees arrive to meetings unprepared or unsure about exactly why they’re at the meeting, it wastes everyone’s time. Before every meeting, send out an agenda of what the meeting will cover. (Use this Xerox agenda template to create a standardized agenda.) Alert employees if there are documents or data they need to review in advance. Give people sufficient time to prepare.

3. Make sure everyone has the relevant information.

Distributing paper copies of documents, or emailing them to meeting attendees, wastes time and causes confusion. Digitizing your businesses documents and records so employees can access them in the cloud can really help speed things up.

A Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology-enabled MFP can scan documents directly into cloud-based services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive and Office 365, you probably already use. ConnectKey® technology allows you to set permissions so only the employees who need to see a document have access to it. Just let employees know which documents they should read, and that’s it.

4. Be prepared to print.

No matter how carefully you plan, let’s get real: someone always forgets a critical document. For instance, suppose you forgot to print something you wanted to hand out to the team. Go to the nearest Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology-enabled MFP, and you can search for documents and print them directly from the touchscreen interface. No need to run back to your desk!

Or maybe you forgot to make copies of a paper document everyone needs to look at, but don’t want to stand around making copies while everyone waits for you. You can quickly scan the document into the cloud using MFPs with Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology so everyone can access it on their laptops or tablets.

5. Follow the leader.

The person who organized the meeting should lead the discussion. If someone starts to digress from the subject of the meeting, gently nudge them back on track. Keep an eye on the clock and let people know how much time is left.

Also make sure someone (not the meeting leader) is taking careful notes. If you use Xerox® meeting templates, it’s easy to quickly turn those notes into minutes for distribution after the meeting is over. In addition to sharing them with attendees, you can also share the information with people who didn’t attend the meeting but need to know the outcome.

6. Take action.

Always leave five minutes at the end of each meeting to go over what you’ve discussed and create a list of action items. This ensures that everyone is on the same page about what comes next. Have the person who’s taking notes use Xerox® meeting templates to quickly create your action item list.

No business can eliminate meetings entirely, but by taking the steps above, you can eliminate some of the headaches involved. For more free business templates and useful business tips, visit the Small Business Resource Center.