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NEVER have one-hour meetings

Tags: Be interesting | Meetings | Impact | Save time | Do more | Influencing

13th June

Today’s Tip is a really easy one…

       Don’t have one-hour meetings.

And that’s it.

You see, most meetings last 30 or 60 minutes.


Two reasons – because:

  1. Outlook is split into 30-minutes chunks; and
  2. that’s how long they’ve always taken

Two dreadful reasons for deciding how long a meeting should last.

And it gets worse. Got ten people in your meeting? That means your meeting cost ten hours of resource. Was it really worth that?

But there’s a very easy way to fix this.

Stop saying “the meeting will last one hour.”

Instead: “the meeting will last a maximum of 45 minutes.”

That way, people arrive thinking:

  • It finishes in only 45 minutes, so we’d better crack on; and
  • Since you said “a maximum of”, if we work efficiently, we’ll finish early

Do this for just one meeting every day, and you save over an hour every week.

Do this every week, and that’s 40-50 hours a year.

That’s an entire working week.

And, because you’d have spent that week in meetings, what a rubbish week it would’ve been!

Even better – if you want to save more than one week, make these changes too:

  • Invite fewer people. Remember, you can always send some people your Actions Arising – they don’t all need to attend everything
  • Fewer agenda items
  • Vary something. Meetings are often too long because of the habits we’ve let ourselves get into. You know the type of thing – every Monday, we meet at 10-11am, in the same room, sitting in the same chairs, discussing the same stuff. So, break your habits and vary something. Change the venue, start time, duration, seating arrangement, chairperson, agenda order…. anything to shake things up
  • Replace ‘Any Other Business’ (often a pointless chat) with ‘Actions Arising’ (ensures there are some)
  • Don’t automatically make them the ‘45 minutes’ I mentioned above. If something can be done in ten minutes, book it in ten minutes

All these ideas are pretty simple.

But the easiest of all is to stop having one-hour meetings.

Right now.

Action point

Look at today’s meetings. What will you do to shorten at least one of them?

Also, Month #2 of my video club contains loads more quick techniques for shortening meetings… and for getting out of the ones you don’t want to go to (a very popular video, that one!) You can watch them here.