Business meetings are a fact of life. Yet, according to motivational keynote speaker Jon Petz, most of them suck. They’re boring and way too long. Few people come prepared to participate (except for that one guy you’re all sick of hearing from) and meetings are seldom as effective as you know they could be.

Leading one of these monotonous and time-consuming get-togethers is no cakewalk, either. Of course, it’s not as if you’re trying to waste your employees’ time. You want to generate discussion and feedback, get new ideas rolling and your firm heading in the right direction. Sadly, things don’t usually turn out that way. In Boring Meetings Suck: Get More Out of Your Meetings, or Get Out of More Meetings, Petz acknowledges meetings as a necessary evil, and suggests four alternative types of meetings designed to be far more effective and efficient.

1. Meet for hours without actually meeting: Employee schedules vary so widely that it’s tough for everyone to gather in the same room at the same time. Instead, Petz proposes holding an “open house” meeting. Reserve a conference room for several hours, then have employees go into the room to make their contributions whenever they have the time. Ask them to write their ideas on a whiteboard and review their coworkers’ comments throughout the day. A variation on this idea is to hold a virtual meeting via a wiki or designated Facebook page, with a set start and end time for posting comments. Whatever the format, give everyone a chance to express their ideas and opinions, without encroaching on as much work time as a traditional meeting would.

2. Get employees to think on their feet: Having people stand during meetings, contends Petz, speeds up the flow of ideas. He advises meeting in a room without the usual elements of tables, chairs, laptops and presentations. Instead, have a quick stand-up chat about whatever you need to discuss and sketch out ideas on a whiteboard. “Ad hoc stand-up meetings work perfectly to flush out quick ideas and move forward,” writes Petz. The meeting’s length will be determined by how long people are willing to stand and bear it. If you give employees the freedom to leave when they’ve had enough, you’ll encourage participants not to waste time. A meeting that might have eaten up an hour can take far less time.

3. Harness the power of the “Triple T”: Take advantage of the fact that people are so wedded to their smartphones by using the “Triple T” of texting, tweeting and other technologies to hold virtual meetings. Gen-Y employees in particular are very much at home with mobile technologies, writes Petz, and “can bring a whole new spirit to a meeting.” He advises frequently texting or tweeting questions to employees to gauge their opinions about various business issues, having them use the online survey tool SurveyMonkey or sending them a link to a discussion topic on LinkedIn. Encourage participation by offering prizes for the most postings, tweets and feedback—while being careful to set minimum quality standards.

4. Pass the buck: You don’t have to take all the grief for leading bad meetings—let others share in the fun! Lead the first meeting in order to give everyone a general sense of the format, then pass around a schedule that rotates the responsibility for leading subsequent meetings. Petz suggests providing some guidance about how to lead meetings, but leaving room for individual styles. Having employees walk in your shoes, he writes, can give them a sense of how tough it is to lead a meeting, especially if only a few people participate. This will encourage employees to make a greater effort in the future.

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