Stand up: The 15 Minute Meeting

15 Minute Meeting
The 15 Minute Meeting

Every company and client that I’ve worked for has had what I considered a penchant for meetings.  I’ve seen meetings to prepare for a meeting.  I’ve also seen meeting leaders who take all of the time allotted for the meeting.  If a one-hour meeting finishes in 45 minutes, they figure out some way of extending the meeting to its allotted time.

Necessary evil

Part of the problem with meetings is that they do serve a purpose.    A meeting addiction is more like an addiction to food rather than to a drug.  We can’t eliminate meetings completely.  We just abuse their use by taking them a little too far.

While I’ve always advocated calling meetings only when they’re absolutely necessary, there is also a problem with indispensable meetings taking too long.

Throughout my career, I’ve used Outlook or Lotus Notes email/scheduling applications.  Both of these default to a minimum 30 minutes for a meeting duration.

Stand-up: The 15 minute meeting

But the begin and end times can be modified to whatever duration you want.  As a result, I’ll often schedule meetings for 15 minutes, especially if I only have a few questions requiring limited deep discussion with a small group of people.

The advantages I’ve found with a 15 minute meeting like this include:

  • People are more likely to be on time for a 15 minute meeting.  Being five minutes late for a one-hour meeting is a small percentage of the meeting.  Being that late for a 15 minute meeting means missing 1/3 of the meeting.
  • Because of the limited time and the fact that people will more likely be on time. Shorter meetings are more likely to start on time.
  • People tend to be more engaged in a shorter meeting.  It has a more focused agenda and attendees know that as soon as it starts, they can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  They’re much less likely to let their minds wander.

A 15 minute meeting is not appropriate in every instance.  Some meetings require a half hour or more depending on its content and purpose.

The main point is, when you schedule a meeting – and you have verified that it is actually necessary, stop and think about how long the meeting needs to be and try to limit it to a suitable length of time.

Additionally, as you get invited to meetings, question your need to attend each one.  If your direct input is not needed, ask yourself:

  •  Can I just review the meeting notes?
  •  Can someone else in the meeting provide an update?
  •  Do I even need an update from this meeting?

People have a tendency to attend every meeting to which they are invited.  This wastes time and creates too many attendees at meetings, which causes them to last longer than necessary.

See my related post: Change Management: A Parable on Agile

While meetings are a necessary evil, there are steps we can take to make them more necessary and less evil.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
Do You Deliver a Transparent Status Report?
I once managed a project for a multi-site organization to implement software at each location. I held a weekly status conference-call with the company’s executives which included the branch manager from ...
READ MORE
Bad Projects Can Still Be Career Builders
Early in my career, I was once called at home around 9:00 PM on a Thursday night and told to report the next day to a project in a city, ...
READ MORE
What Project Management Means to Me
I’ve been blogging for about three years now. Today I’m trying something a bit different.  I’m participating in a Flash Blog.  More than forty bloggers are contributing a blog at ...
READ MORE
12 Project Management Lessons from James Bond
Last November when the latest James Bond motion picture, Skyfall was released, I found myself in a conversation with my co-workers about the new movie.  The conversation evolved to comparisons ...
READ MORE
How I Handled the Removal from a Project
I’ve written before about how to deal with one’s removal from a project. But when it actually happened to me, I gained a better insight into what causes it and ...
READ MORE
Change Management: A Parable on Agile
William was an avid planner.  For his new year’s resolution, he decided to plan each day of the coming year.  He planned the days he would do laundry and mow ...
READ MORE
Feedback Loops through the One On One
Managing teams in any environment is a challenging undertaking.  You’re trying to accomplish some goal as a team. But each member of the team has their own individual goals that ...
READ MORE
Is Celebrity Apprentice good business training?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but one of my favorite shows is Celebrity Apprentice.  Not that I think it’s quality TV by any means; I just get a ...
READ MORE
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends
There comes a time in every consulting project when the project ends for a consultant, normally known as “rolling off”. Consultants are, by nature, temporary workers.  The end of the gig ...
READ MORE
Five Rules of Meetings
I’ve always considered meetings to be a necessary evil.  There are times when the best thing to do is bring together the appropriate people to make a decision or just ...
READ MORE
Do You Deliver a Transparent Status Report?
Bad Projects Can Still Be Career Builders
What Project Management Means to Me
12 Project Management Lessons from James Bond
How I Handled the Removal from a Project
Change Management: A Parable on Agile
Feedback Loops through the One On One
Is Celebrity Apprentice good business training?
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends
Five Rules of Meetings