What are speed meetings and how to use them to make your team more productive?

Meetings have a bit of a bad reputation. And it is not surprising. According to one study, meeting duration and frequency has been rising over the past 40 years. In fact, the study found that an average executive now spends 23 hours a week in meetings!

What’s more, despite the increase in the duration and frequency, more and more people are also finding meetings to be useless and time wasting. A survey of 182 senior managers from different industries found that 65% of them said that meetings kept them from completing their work. Moreover, the same survey found that 71% of managers think that meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

So when did gathering a group of intelligent people with a focused goal become so unproductive?

The problem seems to come down to the battle between delayed and instant gratification.

Our brains are wired to get quick and simple answers (sometimes referred to as System 1 thinking). And having meetings is exactly that. By scheduling more and more meetings we feel busy and feel that we are accomplishing something when in reality we are not.

This is exactly what instant gratification is. Instead of embarking on a long and potentially challenging piece of work (delayed gratification) it is much easier for us to have a meeting and discuss the problem first (instant gratification).

Now, you might be thinking we are putting Calbot out of business. This isn’t the case! We believe that meetings have their place in our professional life, but they need to be focused and fast. This is where speed meetings come in.

Speed meetings is exactly what it sound like – fast and focused meetings (kind of like speed dating). Don’t schedule an hour long meeting when you can get away with 30 minutes. There are best practices of doing running these and so if you fancy giving them a go – read along:

1. Put a price tag on meetings

Put price tags on meetings to have better speed meetings

If your meetings are always long and overrun – put a price tag on them! When scheduling a meeting put a rough price of the meeting in brackets next to the title. Not only will this quantify meetings, but also give you visibility into how much money you could save just by shortening the duration of the meeting

2. Try to find the minimum amount of time needed for a meeting

If you like the idea of speed meetings you might be tempted to go full out and cut your meetings from 60 minutes to 15 minutes on the first attempt. We don’t think this is the best practice. People don’t like change and need time to adjust. Try steadily decreasing the duration by 10 or 15 minute increments to try to find the right balance.

3. Ask your team to rate the meeting

Sometimes you might think that the meeting was super successful, but your team might find it obvious and unnecessary. Try establishing a habit of anonymously asking all meeting participants to rate the meeting straight after it finished. It will give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t. It also goes without saying that these rating surveys should be short (1 or 2 questions).

4. Get rid of all distractions

Speed meetings require 0 distractions and maximum focus

To keep your speed meetings fast you also need to keep them focused. You can’t have one without the other. Take responsibility for moving the discussion forward and keeping the conversation on point. Ban all tech (unless needed for something in question) and make sure everyone is invested in getting in and out of the meeting in the shortest period of time!

Fancy giving speed meetings a go? Try scheduling them with Calbot to save time on finding the best time when everyone is free!

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