Speed up Meetings

Lets face it, technology types hate meetings, right?  Depending on the business, countless hours get wasted in meetings about previous meetings where a future meeting is now required because somebody isn’t present.

Here are a few tips to help get things sped up:

  1. Don’t have a meeting at all. Instead try to settle issues over email/phone/IM or in person with informal one on one chats.
  2. Prepare an agenda in advance. When a meeting is required, create a concise outline ahead of time with exactly what needs to be addressed and what decisions need to be made.
  3. Invite as few people as necessary.  Worse than getting CC’d on an email you don;t need to see is getting invited to a meeting you don’t need to attend.
  4. Ditch the chairs. This has proven effective in our daily standups, inspired by our Agile development team.  Keeping attendees on their feet keeps energy high, meetings short and to the point.
  5. Start on Time. Its impossible to have a quick meeting when people straggle in 10 minutes late.  I’ve heard of incentive systems being used to break bad habits, whereas snacks are provided to the first x%, encouraging people to arrive early, or having people speak in the order they arrive, then ending the meeting ON TIME.  Tardy folks dont get their turn to talk.
  6. Set a Timer. We use this in our weekly/monthly/quarterly leadership meetings and its proven pretty effective.  While we arent starting/stopping meeting times, we do provision a set amount of time for each person to speak, making it more important to prepare in advance and choose your topics more carefully.  I’ve also heard Google using a 4′ ticking clock projected onto the wall of conference rooms to remind everyone about the time.
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