When your hour-long meetings are scheduled back to back, it can be hard to find the time to review notes — or even grab some coffee — before moving on to the next order of business.
The easiest way to find a little free time? Work it into your schedule in 15-minute blocks by carving time OUT of your meetings — we promise it’s easier than it seems!
Step 1: Start scheduling 45 minute meetings — instead of hour long meetings. Then, take that extra 15 minutes and make it “you” time. Block it out in your calendar as ‘busy’ and review meeting notes, catch up on next steps and get your thoughts together. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.
Step 2: Set a clear agenda — and to stick to it. Decide how to structure your discussion and how much time each topic should take. Share your agenda with attendees ahead of time, and include any necessary reference materials to cut down on catch-up time.
Step 3: Stay focused. The best way to avoid distractions and sideline discussions is to keep track of topics that deserve a follow-up; make a note of “Conversations for Later” on a whiteboard or notepad. Your guests will be satisfied their ideas were noticed, and you’ll still be on topic.
Step 4: Make your meeting a distraction-free zone. This one’s a little harder. But keeping BlackBerries, iPads and laptops out of your meeting means you’ll have more people’s undivided attention. If attendees come with tools not needed for the purpose of your meeting, kindly ask them to put them away.
Still having a hard time keeping your meetings under an hour?
Kick it up a notch with these secret meeting tips:
Turn down the thermostat. Keeping your conference room slightly chilly will make people more likely to wrap things up quickly.
Bring a kitchen timer. If you’re not comfortable cutting people off at the five-minute mark, let a timer do it for you – set a specific amount of time for each topic or person to have the floor, and move on at the buzzer.
Ditch the chairs. Want to keep your meeting short and to the point? Meeting while standing up will keep your audience literally on their toes and unwanted distractions to a minimum.
Have you successfully shortened your meetings? What tricks worked for you? Let us know by leaving us a comment and join the conversation!