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5 Tricky Ways to Shorten Meetings

Meetings are a mystery. Everyone claims to hate them, and yet they proliferate on our calendars like Tribbles on Star Trek. The explanations for why that happens are many and varied, including different goals for management and staff, ineffective communication techniques, and just plain old ego. (If you've ever had a boss who loved to hear himself talk, you're familiar with this issue.) Here's how to keep meetings short and get back your time.

Meetings are a mystery. Everyone claims to hate them, and yet they proliferate on our calendars like Tribbles on Star Trek. The explanations for why that happens are many and varied, including different goals for management and staff, ineffective communication techniques, and just plain old ego. (If you’ve ever had a boss who loved to hear himself talk, you’re familiar with this issue.) Here’s how to keep meetings short and get back your time.

stopwatch 

(Photo Credit: wwarby/Flickr)

1. Ban gadgets.

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Take advantage of everyone’s mobile addiction and make your meeting device-free. Every participant, from the boss to the intern, will flee as soon as possible to return to the comforting glow of their favorite gadget.

“Everyone will be anxious to end the meeting if they can’t read or send texts or emails,” writes Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak.

2. Make everyone stand.

Everyone knows that sitting is bad for your health, but could standing be good for productivity? Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri say so.

“A workspace that encourages people to stand up is going to lead to more collaborative and more creative outputs,” Andrew Knight told Reuters Health.

Knight and his team found that students who worked on a group project while standing were “more engaged and less territorial.”

3. Book before an important meeting.

The best way to make sure your meeting doesn’t go over is to schedule it right before another meeting that can’t be delayed. Bonus points if the next meeting involves the executive team or anyone else you wouldn’t want to annoy.

4. Use a stopwatch.

Obnoxious? Maybe. But if it works for Google, it could work for you. One of the many displays showing during the average Google meeting shows a 4-foot high ticking stopwatch.

5. Book shorter blocks of time.

“If you want to jump start your meetings’ productivity, one of the best methods is to shorten them,” writes Craig Jarrow at Time Management Ninja. “This seems counterintuitive at first. But, once people understand that the meetings are all about decisions and not wasting time, you will be amazed at the amount of productivity your team will squeeze into 30 minutes.”

One advantage of short meetings: it’s easier to focus them on a few, clearly defined issues, which makes it less likely that people will go off track. By decreasing the opportunities to get lost in the weeds, you’ll get the most out of everyone’s precious time.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your solution to extra-long meetings? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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