An Easy Way to Start Owning Your Meeting Schedule

The only thing better than a short meeting is the meeting that gets cancelled. Quick, efficient meetings are fantastic.The problem is, I often bite off more than I can chew. I tend to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to actually keeping the meeting short. Think of me as the restaurant host who always says it’ll just be 10 minutes until your table is ready, yet inevitably it’s always more like 20.

Why does this happen? Simple, I’m a victim of succumbing to the desire to have a short meeting over the reality of how much material I plan to cover.

Lately I’ve been able to refine a technique that’s helped me kick this habit…and help me be a bit more prepared too.

Step 1 – Create an agenda

Kind of a “duh” step, but please, please, please do this. Even if you only create an agenda, you’ll already put yourself well ahead of the curve in terms of running a well-polished meeting.


Step 2 – Set each agenda’s time BEFORE the meeting’s time

We’ve covered this a few times so just a quick refresher. Once you have the agenda, take a minute to plan out the length of each agenda section.
Do this before you set the length of the whole meeting. The principle is to let your agenda drive the meeting schedule; don’t let your meeting schedule drive the agenda.

Step 3 – Add discussion notes BEFORE the meeting

This is where I’ve really found the unexpected benefits. Here’s why:

1. This’ll make you more prepared for your meeting (well, obviously). Whether it’s a sales call, presentation, or requirements gathering interview, planning out your discussion points makes your meeting better. This will give you a structured plan for what to cover and what you want to get out of your meeting. And that’s nothing but a good thing.

2. This’ll give you a realistic expectation for how long your meeting will take. By going through this exercise you’ll get a much more accurate idea of how long each agenda section is really going to take. If you have a 10 minute agenda section but find that it’s taken you 15 minutes just to write out all your talking points, 10 minutes probably isn’t gonna cut it!

Simple, yet effective. Try this out when setting up for your next meeting and let us know if it helps you too!

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 image via ido-doi

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