How to Cut Your Meetings in Half

Tired of being in meetings all day long?

Not getting your work done because you are in meetings that last forever?

Today, I want to talk about a simple trick to cut your “meeting” time in half.

I mean this literally.

Because, I want you to try the “30 minute meeting.”

Next time you go to schedule an hour long meeting, try 30 minutes instead.  Yes, cut your meeting time in half.

You may be surprised.  You might actually get more done in less time.

The Power of 30 Minute Meetings

In most businesses, especially corporate environments, the default meeting time is 1 hour.

Why is this?  (Is it written in some secret HR manual?)

Does everything that needs a group to come together, need an hour to discuss and act on?

I am not sure where this standard came from, but the truth is that most meeting topics do not need an hour.

And guess what, when you schedule your meetings for an hour… they will last an hour.

Here are some things to remember before scheduling that next long meeting:

  • Meetings Expand to Fill the Time – If you schedule an hour, your meeting will last an hour.  People will show up late, the meeting will start late, and people will have no qualms about using the full hour.  No matter what they have to talk about to reach the hour mark.
  • Most Meetings Are WAY Too Long – One hour meetings?  How about two hour meetings?  Three?  Have you been scheduled for any of these?  Inevitably, half of the time is wasted with extraneous material, delays, and even breaks.  Resist scheduling super long meetings.
  • Being Late Isn’t As Big a Deal – People tend to think that being 10 minutes late to a one hour meeting isn’t a big deal.  After all, they only missed a few minutes right?  Well, being late to a 30 minute meeting is a big deal. You are well on your way to missing half of it.

Try Mini Meetings

Many people will be nervous about shortening their meeting times.

However, mini meetings tend to be high on energy and high on action.  Try shortening your meetings and see if your team’s energy and productivity rise to the occasion.

Here are some tips to make your short meetings productive:

  • Schedule for 30 Minutes – This may seem too short for some meetings initially.  But, you will quickly find that many of your previous one hour meetings will suddenly adjust to the new time slot.
  • Everyone Must Come Prepared – 30 minute meetings do not have lots of fluff time.  Attendees will need to come prepared.  Ever have a meeting where everyone comes together and ends up reading a document that they were suppose to have reviewed in advance?  Not a great use of everyone’s time.
  • Start on Time – Start the meeting on time.  Not 5 minutes late, not 10 minutes late.  I once worked for a company where the daily 9AM meeting was called the “920.”  Why?  Because that was when it actually started each day.
  • End on Time – People tend to filibuster at the end of meetings.  They try to fit in their last speech, even through they have now made every single person in the room late for their next obligation.  Make it a hard stop.  Even in mid-sentence.
  • Don’t Allow Your Meeting to Get Hijacked – It seems that there is always one person that wants to take the meeting off track.  Have the discipline to reel the meeting back in and let the individual know that the other topic will have wait until after afterwards.
  • Don’t Hesitate to End Early – Ever been in a meeting and someone says, “We still have another 20 minutes.”  They then proceed to intentionally fill those 20 minutes?  If decisions have been made, go ahead and end the meeting. Let people get on to other things.

Shorter Can Be More Productive

If you want to jump start your meetings’ productivity, one of the best methods is to shorten them.

This seems counterintuitive at first.  But, once people understand that the meetings are all about decisions and not wasting time, you will be amazed at the amount of productivity your team will squeeze into 30 minutes.

Then you will have to figure out what to do with all that extra time that you are no longer in meetings.

How long are your meetings?  Would you be more productive if you cut the time in half?

Related Posts:

11 Things You Could Do Instead of That Meeting

How to Disarm Your Distracted Meetings

7 Rules for Being “In The Meeting”

11 thoughts on “How to Cut Your Meetings in Half

  1. Mark Horstman from says that meetings are all planned for one hour now because 1 hour is the Microsoft Outlook default. Shorter meetings used to be frequnt. I’ve not been long enough in business to confirm this, but I am sure that scheduling for 30 minutes makes meetings more effective!

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