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How to make your meetings shorter and more productive

January 19, 2022
Written by Michelle Kuly

According to Harvard Business School, many employees who transitioned to remote working due to the pandemic have seen a daily increase in meetings. And most workers dread them, especially when you’re in a meeting that’s gone over, marred with tech glitches or overtaken by that one coworker with so much to say. 

If your new 2022 calendar is already bursting with meet-ups, it might be time for an overhaul. Even our team of meeting facilitators can use a meeting tune-up sometimes. Let’s take a look at ways you can whittle down those minutes and amp up the purpose. So no one ever walks away from your meetings, thinking it should have been an email.

Back to back Zooms are exhausting.

It’s hard to bring our best when we’re jumping from one meeting link directly to another. Ending a meeting at 20 minutes likely gives you a 10-minute buffer – so you have time to breathe, stand up, use the bathroom before the next call. It also creates positive urgency and pressure, so you get right into what you set out to do.

Embrace your role as a facilitator.

If you’re calling the meeting, lead it from start to finish. Send out an agenda beforehand and organize it as a series of questions. Worthwhile topics include following up and tracking goals, discussing complex issues and resolving problems. 

Be vigilant about the time and realistic about what you can cover in your prep, so you don’t go over. Control the conversation by making sure everyone has a chance to speak - particularly if you're running a hybrid meeting. Be prepared to redirect the flow from people who tend to take over to the more quiet folks.

Focus on meeting structure.

Open virtual meetings 10-15 minutes early so people can still say hello and be social without derailing your agenda. Limit your guest list to no more than six attendees, so the meeting doesn’t get too unwieldy. Wrap up with a few minutes left to give time to ask your colleagues if they would like to add any final comments.

Make space for improvement.

Creating space for evaluation is a surefire way to improve your meetings, especially if you’re meeting with the same group of people regularly. Ask for feedback directly or send out an anonymous survey periodically to check-in and adjust as you go along. 

Striving to make your meetings short, productive and worthwhile will make your colleagues feel respected and give everyone a sense of accomplishment. Plus, you’ll have more time to get your actual work done and focus on all those other things you plan to do this year (our vote is more naps).

Extra resources:

Most workers hate meetings. Here’s how to make sure yours are productive.
100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying
You're Right! You Are Working Longer and Attending More Meetings


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