30-minute meetings are more than enough
These last months, almost all of the meetings taking place around the world have been remote due to COVID-19. However, the following statement is valid for both remote and in-person meetings: meetings tend to be far longer than needed.
We truly believe that meetings can bring a lot of value; to align and sync, to discuss, to brainstorm, to make decisions, to move work forward, etc. But we spend a lot of time on them and some of this time is really wasted. Let’s be realistic: 30 minutes should be enough time to solve almost everything you need to. Realistically, 99% of meetings can fit in a 30 minutes session or less.
So then, why is the average length of our meetings still 1h? And what can you do to make them shorter?
Your Calendar default time.
Yes, the default setting of your Calendar books events for one hour. Changing the default time is something that you can do manually, but almost no one does. There is an unwritten rule that states that you tend to use all time set for a task, a meeting, etc. So booking 1h meetings makes you actually use one hour for that meeting.
Action. Go to your Calendar settings and set the default to 30 min. Do it now, and see how many of your meetings only last 30 minutes.
Meeting Purpose and agenda.
Is the desired outcome of your meetings clear for everyone at the top of the meeting? Do they have an agenda? If so, do you follow it strictly?
Action. Require an agenda in advance for your meetings, and say NO to meetings without a clear purpose. If you are the organizer, stick to the points of discussion to reach that purpose and put aside anything else. You will see the results.
Start on time.
How many meetings start 5 to 10 minutes after they should? There’s always that guy who’s 5 minutes late. Late just means wasting precious time for everyone.
Action. Start your meetings on time. 2 min of courtesy is enough but then start the meeting. Don't make the other participants waste time just because one person is late. Make intros and warm-ups, but keep them short to get to the main points of discussion.
Remember that Comeet can help teams to be in sync and run effective meetings with an easy GCalendar/Gmeet extension.
The number of people.
Really, the number of people in a meeting is directly proportional to the time you will need to run it. Sometimes there are more people than needed, and maybe you only need them for just one point on the agenda or a small piece of relevant information.
Action. Keep meetings as small as you can (do you know Jeff Bezos two pizza rule?). Think twice about who is really needed and what they can contribute to. Avoid meetings with people that only have to contribute to a part of one of the agenda topics (maybe invite them to another, shorter meeting for that).
The last meeting recap effect.
For recurring meetings or status updates, we tend to spend a lot of time just reviewing to-dos and understanding the status of the agreements of the last meeting.
Action. Use tools to keep track of it (yes, Comeet.me can help a lot here) or just ask this by mail before the meeting. Take notes (it can be quick, with only the highlights) and share them so you only have to ask for an update about it.
Just, give it a try and iterate (you can ask for feedback after each meeting). Try 30 minutes per meeting (even less can work) with just these small actions to be done. You will save time for you, for your peers, for the company. Time is the most precious thing we have, so take care of it.