If your meeting is really needed, keep it to 25 minutes

By Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company, April 29, 2022

“Many … meetings don’t need to happen [says Donna McGeorge, author of The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact]. You can share information, says McGeorge, [via] email or … run polls, get opinions, and send video clips [without taking] up ‘nearly as much time as six personnel in a meeting.’

“Yet sometimes meetings are necessary. Meetings are best when you need an active conversation that involves bouncing ideas off each other …, says McGeorge.

While the default for meeting is usually an hour, McGeorge says the ideal is 25 minutes, … the optimal amount of time for people to focus. [And there’s] Parkinson’s Law, which work expands to fill the time allotted. If you give a meeting an hour, chances are you’ll find topics … to fill the void.

“French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann described the tendency for individual productivity to decrease as the size of the group increases. McGeorge recommends having no more than seven people … ‘to get the input from every one of them,’ she says.

McGeorge says successful meetings require the three Ps: purpose, people, and process.

“Start the meeting by determining what you’ll have accomplished by the end of the meeting. Next, make sure you’ve got the right people and tell them what they need to do. The final P is ‘process,’ which means having an effective way of running a meeting. McGeorge recommends ‘scan, focus, act.’ Scan for 12 minutes, going around the room, with everyone giving a one-minute update. The convener then focuses the information by providing feedback on the themes they’ve heard. Then, use the final minutes to come up with action items that can solve the problems. [Twenty-five minutes creates] ‘a sense of urgency for getting things done.’”

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