Ways To Avoid Wasting Time In Meetings


Wasted time in meetings must account for Billions of Dollars of waste every month. Worse still it accounts for more billions of dollars of lost opportunity to add value.

The way meetings are conducted become a part of organisation culture. This becomes ingrained and difficult to challenge. This becomes a Paradigm. Paradigms are mental models that are tough to shift. A very radical different approach might just change your culture. I have introduced in this post an idea for a new meeting style, the ‘QuickMeet’. It undoubtedly carries some risk and must be used appropriately. Most tips for the QuickMeet are able to be utilized in all types of meeting.

Never start or finish on the hour or the half hour

Everybody starts ends on the hour or half hour. This means meetings starting at the time others finish invariably inevitably will result in a late start! Try starting and finishing your meetings on the quarter hour.

Encourage meetings to last odd times

Meetings tend to be for whole hours. Aim to end as soon as you can, or go for increments of 5 minutes. If you can try to aim for 25 minute meetings, or if longer , blocks of 55 minutes. You can achieve a great deal in 25 minutes, with good planning and practice. Full hours encourage filling the time rather that being most efficient.

Have a visible clock with a second hand and start stop button

You can’t beat a large visible clock, preferably counting down for curtailing the verbose.

Do not do redundant pieces of process

Be highly selective about ‘administrative’ elements. For example if people do not know each other, use name tents instead of Introductions or let people draw who attendees are on a poster as they arrive.

Abolish A.O.B.(Any Other Business) completely

If you still persist with this redundant exercise, stop it. It usually exists because it is printed on your standard Agenda.

Use Parking Lots

A Parking Lot, allows anything extraneous to the meeting in hand to be immediately recorded and then to move on, with an assurance that you personally will do something with it within 24 hours.

Leave Immediately

If you find yourself invited to a meeting to make up numbers or so your omission won’t offend you or if the topics not within your accountability or you posses no expertise to contribute or special knowledge of the issue,justifying your inclusion. State this and leave immediately or better still do not go.

One meeting one topic

Meeting Agendas often get overloaded with trivia and might needs. Except for off-sites/Away days stick to one meeting one subject. You will find that minor things can be better handled in other ways.

The deal is be prompt; start promptly and finish on time

Let it be known by your meeting participants that if the arrive on time you promise to start and finish on time without fail.

Longer Meetings only for Bigger Topics

Differentiate between QuickMeet and big meetings. Big meetings are for big topics requiring context and creativity in full. The idea of “QuickMeet” gives you the option for a whole different style of meeting. See the section on QuickMeet.

Ask for a 10 sec contribution and keep to it

if you do need contributions from all participants, place a time limit on them.
” Lets hear everyone’s opinion – just a 10 second remark, I will run the clock.” You can of course vary the time depending on the type of input sought.

Meetings which produce no action get axed

Meetings with a track record of producing no action get stopped. These meetings tend to be recurring meeting. If a meeting produces no actions then, they make no difference, they change nothing. You do not need them.

Communications meetings are Verboten

Any meeting that purports to be a communication meeting is replaced by with an email, a Poster on the wall or a circular all inviting feedback by email.