12 Ways to End Soul-Sucking Meetings

Jan 28, 2020

Poorly run meetings cost US companies $399 billion.

The survey says:

We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries:

  1. 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work.

  2. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient,

  3. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.

  4. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.”

12 Ways to End Soul-Sucking Meetings:

#1. Eliminate back-to-back meetings.

“All meetings end 10 minutes before the top of the hour.”

#2. Shorten standard meeting length to 25 minutes.

#3. Prepare people to participate and put them on the agenda.

Mary presents 3 pros and 3 cons to get the conversation started.

#4. Improve meetings.

At the end of meetings, occasionally ask:

  • What made this meeting work well?

  • What’s one way to make our next meeting even better?

#5. Declare NO-MEETING times. If you’re able, declare NO-MEETING days.

#6. Make meetings small.

Observe the two-pizza rule. Two medium pizzas can feed all attendees.

#7. Eliminate multi-tasking.

  • Minimize technology. No cell phones, for example.

  • Multi-tasking lowers your IQ to an 8-year-old. (Forbes)

  • Multi-tasking makes you inefficient. (Stanford)

“If you really want to be productive, do one thing at a time.”

#8. Spend time building relationships.

“Strong relationships and psychological safety result in efficient meetings as long as you maintain focus on goals.”

#9. Don’t talk about it unless you plan to do something about it.

Spend less time criticizing and complaining and more time solving.

#10. Making decisions in the meeting, NOT before the meeting.

I’ll never forget one leader saying, “Never go into a meeting unless you know the outcome before you begin.” Foregone conclusions indicate wasted meeting time.

Discussions are manipulations if you’ve already made up your mind.

#11. Eliminate interrupting and bloviating.

#12. Reduce observers.

Anyone who consistently leaves meetings without something to do shouldn’t be in the meeting.

Which meeting tip would you like to implement in your organization?

What meeting tips might you add to the list?

Bonus material:

The Science and Fiction of Meetings (MIT Sloan)

7 Tips to More Productive Meetings (Project Management Hacks)

By Dan Rockwell