Time is precious, and quite early in the process of building my businesses, I realised to achieve my goals I needed to be miserly with meeting time. This meant cutting many meetings out of the calendar, and ensuring the ones I kept were as short as possible.
The 10-minute meeting became my yardstick.
I wasn’t universally popular in the corporate world for this schedule ruthlessness, but I soon realised that the people who did appreciate it were the most powerful and valuable ones anyway.
So, in the end I was not only saving myself time, but making a good impression with the key people — and filtering out the time-wasters and the valueless. If you feel your time is being wasted in endless drawn-out meetings, a similarly ruthless strategy will solve the problem, free up your time, and ensure the time you do spend in meetings is highly productive.
Here are some strategies to help you drastically cut down your time in meetings.
Ask yourself do you need to be there at all?
Why are you having that meeting? Did someone ask you to be in it? Ask them what your role would be. Could you review the info and give comment beforehand? Do you ‘really’ need to be in the discussion?
Schedule your next appointment 30 minutes later
Back-to-backs can be a nightmare … or a productivity tool. You’ll tend to focus more sharply, you’ll be able to speak first and no-one will try to stop you from leaving.
Run the meeting yourself
Take control. Set the meeting yourself and run it. This will ensure it flows and is over and done with minutes.
Start saying no to serial offenders
Is there a contact or manager who’s known for holding meetings for the sake of them, or when a group email would have fulfilled the need? Avoid them. Just ask for a run-down beforehand, or pass on your points to someone else who’s attending.
Get to the point
When you have group or even just one-on-one meetings, don’t get bogged down with forced niceties. If it’s a business meeting then do just that. Business. Have your points ready and get through them. The right people will love you for giving them extra time in the day.
Allocate and delegate
Make sure you allocate action items ASAP in a meeting. This will keep them short, but more importantly it will ensure you won’t need another one in the short-term because of the dreaded “nothing was resolved, so we need to meet again” scenario.
If you want food at a meeting, incentivise people by having it available once the meeting is over. Don’t underestimate the power of food as an incentive, but also don’t underestimate the danger of the meeting taking on a time-wasting social feel if people start eating during the agenda.
Amanda Rose is the only ‘strategic connector’ in Australia, a brand strategist, speaker, host of Amanda Rose TV, founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Quoted as an “internet winning blogger” by TIME.com. Follow Amanda on Twitter.