7 Ways to significantly reduce your meeting time

It never ceases to amaze me how badly led many meetings are. The same people ramble on and on, the same people never say a word, everyone repeats what everyone else says or there are so many tangents you need another meeting to follow up on the meeting…and so it goes on.

I’ve shared some ways to reduce your meeting time before but so many of you have told me recently that one of your aspirations is to get more of the important things done, that I thought they are worth repeating.

Here are seven of my top tips to help you make best use of your meeting time:

  1. Ask: ‘How important is this meeting to achieving my personal and organisational goals?’ If it isn’t then find a way to say ‘no’ to the meeting without offending. The ‘without offending’ bit is key.
  2. Offer to attend part of the meeting. ‘I’m on a deadline with project x but I can join you for half an hour between 10 and 10.30.’
  3. Schedule a phone call instead – ‘I can’t make the meeting but I’d love to catch up with you afterwards/beforehand.’
  4. Ask for an agenda and then offer to attend the parts of the meeting where you can offer or give most value.
  5. Ask for the meeting to be pushed back to a later date ‘to enable us to have more data on xyz.’
  6. This one might seem counter-intuitive but one of my clients got so fed up with everyone turning up at the meeting without having prepared properly that he starts the meeting with half an hour ‘reading time’ to ensure everyone is up-to-speed. 
  7. One of the best ways to get everyone to contribute in a timely way is to pair people up for certain parts of the meeting and share ideas/questions and so on. A great way to ensure everyone’s voice is heard in a timely way (the quieter one is the spokesperson for the pair, of course!)