In Favor of the 30-Minute Meeting

Perhaps the biggest challenge of modern society is maintaining the ability to focus. These days, smartphones, constant connectivity and endless distractions make it difficult for many to concentrate on one task at a time. Although difficult, actually focusing on just one item typically yields increased productivity and higher quality work. Condensing meeting times can be one solution to this dilemma.

Daniel Russell, founder of  Attentiv, a time and meeting management tool, investigated studies on work meetings and made a few interesting observations. He found that the most common complaint attendees had about meetings was that they lacked decision-making. Other common complaints included disorganization and domination by certain individuals. Russell found that the average meeting costs an estimated $338 in staff salary time—which would be a tremendous cost for an inefficient or unproductive meeting.

Like a sprint, the 30-minute meeting will be more strenuous at first, but it is definitely worth preserving invaluable time. Once adopted, the 30-minute meeting can sometimes be more fruitful than those spanning hours.

Why are shorter meetings more productive?

When people are aware of a 30-minute time constraint they begin to carefully and thoughtfully plan. Employees are also less likely to reschedule or arrive late because a shorter meeting is less of a commitment. Once in the meeting, attendees are more straightforward and intensely focused on action items.

Tips for Holding 30-Minute Meetings

Thoroughly prepare

Everyone must familiarize themselves with relevant materials prior to the meeting. Distribute vital documents ahead of time. The meeting plan should include a distinct objective, significant and informative points, answers to glaring questions, identified concerns, a list of decisions to be made and necessary questions to ask.

Stay action-oriented

The beauty of short meetings is that they are action-oriented by nature. It’s necessary to keep this intention in mind when allocating time. Don’t expect perfect decisions. Instead, just make sure they are made. Let go of time drains such as presentations, pleasantries and diversions.

Keep it small

The success of a short meeting is contingent on the number of attendees. The 30-minute meeting is ideal for small groups no larger than five people. Each meeting participant needs to be entirely present for short meetings to function properly. Consolidating over five unique opinions, requests, schedules and personalities likely requires more than 30 minutes.

Keep an eye on the time

Until you have become proficient at it, sticking to the 30-minute limit will be a challenge. Keep an eye on the clock and note how long certain meeting segments take. When arranging your first 30-minute meeting, plan as if you only have 20 to 25 minutes. Normally, meetings exceed their projected time.

Always reflect & assess

Even in a brief meeting it is crucial to devote time to reflection. Always reserve the last five minutes for a dialog about moving forward. The discussion should include a quick summary, impending next steps and guidelines for measuring success.

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