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Shorter Meetings - Increased Production

Do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.

Benjamin Franklin


“Don’t bother asking for an hour, no one gets an hour”.   That was a rude awakening as I started to do some consulting work for a household name in technology.  The company had recently conducted a study of how time was being spent company-wide and realized how much of this valuable resource was being eaten up in internal meetings.  The survey highlighted that having highly paid staff attending meetings they don’t need to be at, is a tough way to maximize productivity.  Regular meetings are now 30 minutes or less.

According to insiders their meetings have become much more effective:

  • They start on time

  • They have realistic agendas containing the most salient issues

  • They get to the point

  • People know why they are there

  • The right people are in attendance

  • The meetings accomplish stuff

I thought of all the companies I work with who regularly hold hour long meetings.  I multiplied that number by all of the companies I don't work with, (in order to justify my imagined scenario) and came up with an unusually large number of work hours that may be being wasted.

If you want to achieve increased productivity through shorter meetings ask yourself these questions prior to sending out the invite:

  • What is the purpose of the meeting?

  • What is my desired outcome? (What should attendees be thinking or doing when they leave this meeting?

  • What is on the agenda? (What is crucial?)

Who genuinely needs to be there?

Toastmasters international are known for their ability to hold highly effective meetings.  If you have ever spent time in one of their meetings you know how much they squeeze in.  Toastmaster meetings do last an hour.  But, how long would they last if a company ran them?  Two to three hours is my guess.

The Toastmasters secret sauce:

  • Agenda

  • Everyone knows what will be covered and how long it will take.

  • Punctuality - Meetings start at the advertised time

  • People show up prior to the meetings

  • Meetings have pace

  • The meetings zip along thanks to well crafted rules, agendas and elected timekeepers

Meanwhile, back at the tech company; when a team member receives an invitation today, they ask the following questions:

  • How should I best prepare for this meeting?

  • What would you want me to bring or contribute?

Next time you are invited to a meeting make sure there is a purpose, make sure you are needed and make sure actual stuff will be accomplished.

Stuart Chant is a management consultant, speaker, trainer and all round good egg.

C: 818 422 3626

No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog piece


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