Shorter Meetings Are Better Meetings

Ways to Shorten Your Meetings

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that meetings run too long.  Often, this is because agendas are too full or discussions wander.  You can handle these problems in the meeting (and you’ll see other posts in this blog about this also).  Here are five strategies to shorten your meetings:

1.  Determine the average salary of people in the room and then project the amount of money being spent during the meeting on a laptop or projector somewhere in the room.  People become aware of the cost of going off-topic or unproductive discussion and manage their input to be more concise and focused.

2.  Eliminate distractions. At the start of meetings, ask attendees to turn off phones, laptops, etc. during the meeting.  Hold them to this.  If someone is sneaking a peek at their email, point out the behavior.  Consider confiscating the devices at the start of the meeting or when people ignore the guideline.  Close the blinds on the windows facing into the larger office.  Turn off the phone in the conference room.

3.  Set clear guidelines for behavior. Include items such as “share airtime” to prevent people from dominating conversation.  Another item might be “stay focused on the agenda item” and when people  wander away from that topic, point out that the guideline is to keep on-topic.

4.  Make the planned time shorter than usual.  Remind attendees that this meeting will be fast and efficient and they will be done sooner if they operate within the time limit.

5.  Have fewer agenda items. Rather than cram everything into one meeting, hold two shorter meetings a week apart and address only one or three topics instead of five or six.

Try these out and let me know how they work for you (in the comments section below or just email me).  Also, feel free to share additional methods you have used to shorten your meetings.


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