Your Meetings don’t have to suck. (And what to do if they do).

Meetings have a bad reputation. Whether they are criticized for being too long, too short, pointless, or too complicated, that bad reputation may be founded in truth. For most companies, they are a necessary evil and part of the cost of doing business.

The thing is, meetings don’t have to suck—there are ways that you can build a culture where they become points of true innovation among your staff, and highly profitable ones at that.

Here are seven quick tips to consider to make your meetings suck less—or, not at all:

Publish an agenda. If your biggest challenge is people coming unprepared or not knowing the “big things” that have to be accomplished, you can get a long way just by publishing an agenda prior to your meeting time.

Include (only) all the people relevant to your agenda. Don’t pile everyone in the office into the conference room if only three are vital to the conversation. But if you need to pull 10 people in, make sure they are helping cover all angles of the conversation and let them run with it.

Get Moving. There’s no reason your meeting always has to be held in the same conference room, and who says you have to stay seated? Instead, take an opportunity to shake things up—have a meeting offsite, take a few people on a walk around the block, or try a standing meeting, instead. Movement has been proven to make the brain work faster, so there’s a dual benefit to moving around instead of sitting still.

Decide the where, when, and how long—before the meeting starts. Don’t wait to “see how it goes” in the meeting, letting it run on for hours and hours before you hit “pause” only to recap with yet another meeting.  A little bit of planning can go a long way to make sure that you hit the high points (we recommend no more than three priority items for any one meeting) and keep everyone engaged.

Bring food. Everybody likes food, and a group nosh is a great way to remove some formality of the meeting. Whether it’s bringing in donuts for an early morning meeting, pizza for a lunchtime brainstorm or a bag of candy for an afternoon group-think, food is a great way to instantly bring down walls and open lines of communication.

Follow up with Action Items. You didn’t meet just for the sake of having a meeting; most of the time you’ll have action items that the team must follow up on. Keep everyone on the same page and make those actionable items a reality by a quick recap email to your staff.

Gain Consensus. Meetings are simply one form of communication, so forget the formalities for a moment and just think about what it is you are trying to communicate.  In most cases, you wouldn’t go into a conversation, drop a ton of information and walk away without hearing the other person’s perspective, so why do that with a team of people that you work alongside every day? Instead, try to ensure that each meeting has an aura of safety, so that your team feels open to communicate back