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10 Tips for Fast Meetings

Keeping meeting time under control increases efficiency throughout the day. These hint can help.

Meetings have gotten a bad rap, but they are still a business staple. According to the Executive Time Use Project conducted by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School, chief executives spend about a third of their day in formal meetings. Chances are good that some of these meetings are longer than necessary.

Try these non-traditional options to help you improve meeting productivity:

  1. Encourage employees to give progress updates by email instead of in weekly status meetings.
  2. Banish topical agendas in favor of desired outcomes. For example, "Client reporting" becomes "Agree on three ways to improve client reporting."
  3. Rather than sending documents before a meeting and hoping that employees review them, give each meeting participant a "homework assignment" such as identifying two potential solutions to a specific problem.
  4. Schedule meetings at the end of the day or before lunch so participants will be eager to finish up within the allotted meeting time.
  5. Make meetings uncomfortable. Standing makes participants less likely to linger. Keep the meeting room cool so employees will want to get back to their warmer workspace.
  6. A walking meeting helps participants clear their minds and often, talk more openly.
  7. If you don't know why you are invited to a meeting, ask for clarification of your role before you accept the invitation.
  8. Banning laptops, cell phones and tablets keeps participants focused and anxious to get back to their devices. If you must schedule a long meeting, add short email breaks to the agenda.
  9. Start on time and consider charging latecomers a small fee that you donate to charity or use to buy office snacks.
  10. Meetings tend to fill the time allotted. Scheduling software often defaults to hour increments. If a meeting should last for 45 minutes, schedule it for 45 minutes rather than letting it default to an hour.


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