We spend a good portion of our work hours in meetings – perhaps too much. Meetings are an essential part of getting the job done. The act of collaborating with colleagues to make decisions, plan projects, and present data deserves its due. All the same, meetings should never last longer than they need to, but consistently that is exactly what happens. Some meetings tend to linger on well after they should have ended, and others are dragged out without ever reaching a conclusion – even those that are held online through video conferencing, which tend to be more efficient.

So much time is lost in meetings. How do we get some of this time back? Taking control of a meeting from the beginning and maintaining it throughout will give you better agency for making the meetings fit into your life, not the other way around. These steps can help you get back hours of your workweek.


Follow an agenda

There’s no excuse not to make an agenda. Set up the structure of your meeting by lining up exactly what will be discussed and when. List the items in order of priority, so that the most important things get done, and keep them in a logical sequence so that no information is missing in the discussion.


Cut it back by 15 minutes

Most meetings are scheduled to last one hour. There’s no real reason for it, but it’s the default. Try trimming 15 minutes off of the meeting time to put the pressure on to finish sooner (within 45 minutes). Even if you need to let the meeting go over a little, moving the finish line up will still save you time.


Have everything ready

Come prepared so that no time is wasted with meeting setup. If you have documents that need to be shared, bring copies, have your screen-sharing software ready, or share them via e-mail beforehand. Set up your audiovisual equipment beforehand and make sure everything works. Most technical difficulties that take up meeting time can be avoided with some testing.


Assign a timekeeper

Give one person in the meeting the job of keeping track of time, and make sure they have a clear set of instructions. Not only can they make sure the meeting doesn’t go over time, but they can also keep tabs on how much time is spent discussing a single topic. For example, you can instruct them that each agenda item should only be allotted 15 minutes.


End on time

This one is simple, but is often not achieved. Be strict about ending a meeting on time unless it’s absolutely necessary to extend it. Sometimes it can save time in the long-run to continue a planning or group project meeting for 15 minutes rather than meeting again another time to finish up. But if this isn’t the case, and a decision doesn’t need to be made then and there, call it when it’s time.


Table less important items

As mentioned earlier, less important items should go at the bottom of the agenda. Structuring meetings in this way ensures that the most time is given to the most important matters. It also allows the less important items to be the ones that can be saved for the next meeting. Since they’re not as much of a priority, the meeting can still end on time without sacrificing key matters.


Say no to pointless meetings

There are meetings that can be improved so they become shorter, and then there are meetings that don’t need to happen at all. Often we get caught up in routine and weekly meetings are held whether they are necessary or not. Before planning a meeting, assess what the objectives are. If there aren’t any clear ones, take it off the schedule. You’d be surprised how much time it can save you!

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

Time to move your events online. Do it with ClickMeeting


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