Meetings have always been the bane of the workplace, and it’s gotten worse since many companies have switched to a largely remote workforce. If you’re tired of meetings that never seem to end, you may be heartened to know that shorter meetings can actually be more effective. Humans have a limited attention span, so it’s better to get in, get your goals accomplished, and get out again. Here are some tips to cut down your meetings.

Clarify Goals

Before you ever set foot in a meeting, you should know what needs to be accomplished before it can end. Maybe you want to decide which features to include in your next product release, or perhaps you want to get all team members’ opinions on the new breakroom. Whatever your goal, clearly share it with everyone who will be in the meeting. Then everyone will be driving toward the same endpoint.

Set the Agenda

Draw up an agenda for each meeting that specifies how long you will spend on each item. If there are items that don’t include everyone, consider handling them in a sub-group, or letting everyone else go before moving on to those discussions. If the agenda seems long, consider cutting some less important material or breaking the meeting into two shorter sessions.

Cut the Guest List

Everyone in the room should have a purpose for being there. Asking someone to attend a meeting that doesn’t directly involve her is rude and a waste of everyone’s time. The fewer people in the room, the faster the discussions will go and the easier it will be to come to a consensus. Remember, you can always send the meeting results to people who need to know, but not a reason to be in the room.

Complete Reports Ahead of Time

If status reporting is on the agenda, ask everyone to write their reports in advance. This keeps the discussion focused and prevents putting anyone on the spot. Even better, ask for written status reports in advance of the meeting, and circulate them by email along with the agenda for team members to read before the meeting begins.

Declare a No Meeting Day

One of the best ways to cut down on meeting time is to designate at least one day per week as a No Meeting Day. This gives everyone a day to buckle down and get to work without distractions, ensuring that they are prepared when the next meeting rolls around.

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