Maximize Your Meetings by Making Them Shorter

Linda Dulye's picture
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“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: “meetings.” – Dave Barry

No one likes meetings. Or, perhaps more accurately, no one likes meetings that have no apparent value or purpose. Over the years we’ve shared many ideas for making your meetings more effective and recently we ran across another method for getting real value from meetings: make them shorter. That’s the approach of Google CEO Larry Page.

[Page] so hates wasting time at meetings that he once dumped his secretary to avoid being scheduled for them. [Recently] he even broke down and hired an administrative assistant, after letting his previous one go years ago. She schedules him for those dreaded meetings. But they are only 50 minutes long, because in one of his first companywide memos after he took the job, he decreed that hourlong meetings must allow time for a bathroom break in between.

Granted, there’s a practical reason Page demands shorter meetings – the bio break – but he’s on to something strategically, too. The shorter the meeting the more precious each minute becomes, which means decisions must be made more quickly and topics distilled to the most-critical points.

By chance, and coincidence, we were adjusting our Google Calendar settings recently and discovered a new option, no doubt inspired by Page. Now users of the calendar service can change the default setting from 60-minute meetings to 50-minute “speedy meetings”, described as: “Encourage meeting efficiency and get to your next meeting on time. 
30 minute meetings end 5 minutes early, 1 hour meetings end 10 minutes early, etc.”

A little thing? Sure. But try this tweak to your meeting schedule and see if it makes your meetings – and your team – more effective.

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