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10 Ways to Shorten Long Meetings

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May 2015
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Great meetings create efficiency.

It’s Solution Saturday. The problem I’d like us to solve is spending too much time in long meetings. One CEO said she has to take her work home at night because her days are spent in meetings. 

“… one either meets or one works. One can not do both at the same time.” Peter Drucker

10 ways to shorten long meetings:

  1. Ban electronic devices. Everyone will be anxious to end the meeting if they can’t read or send texts or emails.
  2. Send background materials the day before. Meet with a key player who can gather and summarize materials for the team. Review and approve all background information before it’s sent.
  3. State the purpose of the meeting when you send out the agenda. State the purpose again at the beginning of the meeting. A meeting without a purpose is a complete waste of time.
  4. Establish action items on the agenda, not discussion points. State what needs to be accomplished.
  5. Ask people for their conclusion when they begin speaking. Teach teammates to get to the point quickly by asking:
    • What’s your conclusion?
    • What’s your recommendation?
    • What do you want?
  6. Minimize one-way communication. Leverage two-way, real-time communication.
  7. Limit the number of participants to five or six at most. Small groups:
    • Increase ownership.
    • Elevate responsibility.
    • Shorten the time needed for the meeting.
    • Expose drifters. Drifters can’t hide in small groups.
  8. End at the appointed time. Teach people that you stick with the agenda.
  9. Don’t reward tardiness by reviewing.
  10. Send meeting results:
    • Review decisions made.
    • List follow up responsibilities. The person who doesn’t have something to do after the meeting, shouldn’t have attended the meeting.
    • Include deadlines.

Bonus tip: Shorten the length of all meetings by 25%. See #8! People who like to get things done will thank you.


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