7 Secrets to Ending Meetings on Time

We have all been there.

You are in a meeting that seems to go on forever.

It is well past the appointed end time and someone is still talking like they could go on all day.

You have long stopped listening and instead have started worrying about how the rest of your day is going to be impacted. You are already late for your next meeting, and the rest of your day is going to be thrown off schedule.

How do you prevent meetings from going over their time?

Managing Your Meeting Time

If you schedule a meeting for an hour, chances are, it will last an hour. This is true even if the topic is only 15 minutes.

Just like tasks, meetings will expand to fill the time they are provided.

The secret to keeping your meetings under control is to manage their time. Schedule them only for the time required, and then be disciplined about their execution. Otherwise, they will quickly overrun your entire day.

“Start your meetings on time, and more importantly, end them on time.”

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One of the biggest time management mistakes when it comes to meetings is to let them overrun their scheduled time. We have all been in the meeting that starts 15 minutes behind schedule, only to be restarted at the 30 minute point when someone shows up late.

However, perhaps the best tip for keeping meetings in check is to always end them on time.

If people know the meeting is going to end at a specific time, they will be more apt to follow the rules.

Discipline about ending meetings when they should drives better meeting behavior by all involved.

Here are 7 Secrets to Ending Your Meetings on Time:

  1. Start on Time – Always start your meetings on time. It doesn’t matter who is late. It doesn’t matter if people are still messing around. Starting your meeting on time sets the tone for the entire event.
  2. Have an Agenda – It’s amazing how many meetings occur with no purpose or agenda. Require meeting organizers to spell out the “what and why” of meetings before they are scheduled.
  3. Set Expectations – Before you begin a meeting, set expectations with the participants about the purpose of the meeting, the allotted duration, and that the meeting will end on time. This lets people get in the right mindset for the discussion. And no one will be surprised when the meeting ends and they still haven’t said what they wanted to say.
  4. Stay on Topic – Don’t let people derail the conversation to tell unrelated stories or hijack the meeting to discuss their latest unrelated issue. You don’t have to be a disciplinarian, a gentle course correction is usually all it takes to return things to the topics at hand.
  5. Time Check Regularly – Especially for any meeting over 15 minutes, make sure you regularly check the time remaining. Quick announcements of the time remaining can help maintain the proper meeting pace.
  6. End Early – For a meeting to “end on time,” it really needs to end early. Just because you scheduled the meeting from 9-10 doesn’t mean you should go until exactly 10. If you do, you will inevitably disrupt follow-on meetings and engagements. Just as, “Arriving 10 minutes early is on time,” “Ending the meeting 10 minute early is on time.”
  7. Excuse Yourself – If all else fails, and the meeting isn’t going to end on time, you still can. Simply excuse yourself at the appropriate ending time. The best excuse to use when departing? “I have another meeting,” of course.

Start on Time, End on Time

Don’t let rogue meetings ruin your day.

Tight control over the meetings on your schedule will ensure that they do not take up more time than then was allowed.

Ending meetings on time, every time, not only manages your time, but respects the time of all people involved.

Question: How do you ensure your meetings end on time? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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