Why The 1-Hour Meeting Is Too Long

I recently observed a 1-hour long meeting at a client company.

– 15 minutes of the hour were spent waiting on those coming back from lunch.

– 10 minutes were spent restarting the meeting when the final participant arrived 25 minutes late.

– 10 minutes were spent retelling the details of the meeting organizer’s vacation from the previous week.

– 10 were then spent reading out loud a new company policy that was emailed out the previous week.

– 5 minutes were then spent in Q&A to ensure there were no questions about the policy.

After 50 minutes, the meeting adjourned.

The participants then congratulated themselves for finishing early.

The leader actually said, “You can all have 10 minutes back to your day!”

Meeting to Waste Time

Hmm.

Another perspective on this meeting was that it was a complete waste of everyone’s time.

The 10 minutes of discussion probably could have been a 2 minute phone call between two individuals.

“Most corporate meetings are simply gatherings of people, so that one person can get their work done by committee.”

Oh, did I mention that 11 people were involved in this particular meeting?!?

Yes, eleven people sat around for an entire hour basically doing nothing.

Ever been to a meeting where an entire team sits around reading a memo or document that was sent out in advance?

I was at my son’s elementary school recently and they all sat in a circle and someone read a book out loud to the group.

Does this sound like your corporate meetings?”

Why do companies have group reading sessions? Does yours?

Minimize the Meetings

Most companies are paralyzed by meetings. They are the single biggest waste of time and payroll.

Here are 5 Ways to Minimize Your Company’s Meetings:

  1. Schedule Meetings for Less Time – Down with the 1-hour meeting! Schedule meetings for 30 minutes. Or better yet, 15 or 20. (Here are some more tips on “Cutting Your Meetings in Half.”)
  2. Invite Fewer People – Trying to have a conversation or get agreement from 11 people is like trying to herd cats. It is very difficult.
  3. Make Decisions Before the Meeting – Follow Al Pittampalli’s advice and ensure that decisions are made prior to the meeting. The meeting should be for debating or reviewing decisions, not for endlessly making decisions by committee. Nor should they be used for reading the memo that was sent out the previous week.
  4. Start and End on Time – This should be a hard and fast rule. Start and end on time, no matter who is present. Those who miss the meeting can catch up later. (See 9 Ways to start the 9AM meeting on time.)
  5. Right to Decline – Respect your employees enough to let them decide if they need to attend a particular meeting. Give them the “Right to Decline.” If a meeting is not worthwhile, you will quickly know about it. People will vote with their time.

Down With the 1-Hour Meeting!

Meetings are one of the top time-wasters in corporate environments.

It is ironic that companies will spend hours of work questioning a $20 charge on an expense report, yet they allow anyone in the company to call meetings that cost thousands of dollars per hour.

So, the next time you go to schedule a meeting, stop and consider minimizing the time allotted.

I’ll bet that you probably don’t need an hour.

Are meetings a time-waster in your company?

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16 thoughts on “Why The 1-Hour Meeting Is Too Long

  1. People need to come to meetings prepared and have a clear idea of what they want to say during the meeting. It is disasterous to have that one person who didn’t read the materials that were sent out in advance, so the whole story could be avoided.

    Meetings should be different, they should be treated as a reward of a sort, time “off” work. Brainstorming session. Gather ups where you join to enjoy, not to be bored to death. The whole concept of meeting is flawed, because people are actually expecting to “get something done” on a meeting.

    Not all 8 hours a day can be used productively. I got nothing against meetings, just their point should be completely reformed.

    Perhaps we can explain how meeting can be effective, as opposed to avoiding them at all costs, as majority of productivity gurus claim.

  2. People need to come to meetings prepared and have a clear idea of what they want to say during the meeting. It is disasterous to have that one person who didn’t read the materials that were sent out in advance, so the whole story could be avoided.

    Meetings should be different, they should be treated as a reward of a sort, time “off” work. Brainstorming session. Gather ups where you join to enjoy, not to be bored to death. The whole concept of meeting is flawed, because people are actually expecting to “get something done” on a meeting.

    Not all 8 hours a day can be used productively. I got nothing against meetings, just their point should be completely reformed.

    Perhaps we can explain how meeting can be effective, as opposed to avoiding them at all costs, as majority of productivity gurus claim.

  3. People need to come to meetings prepared and have a clear idea of what they want to say during the meeting. It is disasterous to have that one person who didn’t read the materials that were sent out in advance, so the whole story could be avoided.

    Meetings should be different, they should be treated as a reward of a sort, time “off” work. Brainstorming session. Gather ups where you join to enjoy, not to be bored to death. The whole concept of meeting is flawed, because people are actually expecting to “get something done” on a meeting.

    Not all 8 hours a day can be used productively. I got nothing against meetings, just their point should be completely reformed.

    Perhaps we can explain how meeting can be effective, as opposed to avoiding them at all costs, as majority of productivity gurus claim.

  4. People need to come to meetings prepared and have a clear idea of what they want to say during the meeting. It is disasterous to have that one person who didn’t read the materials that were sent out in advance, so the whole story could be avoided.

    Meetings should be different, they should be treated as a reward of a sort, time “off” work. Brainstorming session. Gather ups where you join to enjoy, not to be bored to death. The whole concept of meeting is flawed, because people are actually expecting to “get something done” on a meeting.

    Not all 8 hours a day can be used productively. I got nothing against meetings, just their point should be completely reformed.

    Perhaps we can explain how meeting can be effective, as opposed to avoiding them at all costs, as majority of productivity gurus claim.

  5. People need to come to meetings prepared and have a clear idea of what they want to say during the meeting. It is disasterous to have that one person who didn’t read the materials that were sent out in advance, so the whole story could be avoided.

    Meetings should be different, they should be treated as a reward of a sort, time “off” work. Brainstorming session. Gather ups where you join to enjoy, not to be bored to death. The whole concept of meeting is flawed, because people are actually expecting to “get something done” on a meeting.

    Not all 8 hours a day can be used productively. I got nothing against meetings, just their point should be completely reformed.

    Perhaps we can explain how meeting can be effective, as opposed to avoiding them at all costs, as majority of productivity gurus claim.

      • @TMNinjapittampalli No, actually I haven’t. This comes from practicce. As a member of AIESEC, we viewed meetings as place where we bond and nurture ideas. Everyone would be encouraged to contribute and participate, in order to inspire leadership through action and active participation in the common goal.

        Meetings are there to inspire motivation, transfer knowledge and make bonds between people.

  6. @TMNinjapittampalli No, actually I haven’t. This comes from practicce. As a member of AIESEC, we viewed meetings as place where we bond and nurture ideas. Everyone would be encouraged to contribute and participate, in order to inspire leadership through action and active participation in the common goal.

    Meetings are there to inspire motivation, transfer knowledge and make bonds between people.

  7. Craig,

    Meetings are sometimes just corporate version of procrastination.

    Luckily I have been able to avoid time wasting meetings, but there are still ones that I could have skipped.

    I’m very grateful that most of my meetings (90%) are done through Microsoft LiveMeeting. Although those same things could happen in a virtual meeting what you mentioned in your post, I still feel that it is a better option from time management’s perspective.

    Cheers,

    Timo

  8. Craig,

    Meetings are sometimes just corporate version of procrastination.

    Luckily I have been able to avoid time wasting meetings, but there are still ones that I could have skipped.

    I’m very grateful that most of my meetings (90%) are done through Microsoft LiveMeeting. Although those same things could happen in a virtual meeting what you mentioned in your post, I still feel that it is a better option from time management’s perspective.

    Cheers,

    Timo

  9. Yes! The one-hour meeting can be too long, and… no it is just right.

    The one-hour meeting is just right if it a value added meeting. This would include a purpose for the meeting, an agenda, team guidelines, responsible action item takers, and an outcome that produces more than the time invested.

    This same meeting may be done in less time and still be effective. It all depends on the content and engagement of the team working on an issue.

    Good post. Thank you.

  10. Yes! The one-hour meeting can be too long, and… no it is just right.

    The one-hour meeting is just right if it a value added meeting. This would include a purpose for the meeting, an agenda, team guidelines, responsible action item takers, and an outcome that produces more than the time invested.

    This same meeting may be done in less time and still be effective. It all depends on the content and engagement of the team working on an issue.

    Good post. Thank you.