Skip to content

Online Meetings: Keep Them Short and Sweet for Maximum Impact

by SUMMIT on December 10th, 2015

Online Meetings Keep Them Short and Sweet for Maximum Impact

You’ve probably called into a monotonous online meeting before. Some professionals put their phones on mute and complete other tasks during the process, defeating the purpose of a call in the first place. Others, glaze over and zone out during long, boring, talking-head style videoconferences. Having short, engaging online meetings may make a difference in the impact of conference calls.

The National Statistics Council confirms that many of us spend time in wasteful meetings. As many as 47% of employees cite an excess of meetings as the most inefficient workaday task. That data doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut assemblies altogether. Rather, restructure them for efficacy. But does shortening them really work?

Should You Move to Short Online Meetings?

Short online meetings allow more participants to make time for a call. Think about it. You may not have an hour to spend waiting for participants to join, conducting small chat, and then finally getting around to the important agenda items in the last 10 minutes. However, you may have 10-15 minutes to dedicate to a highly focused conference. Hosts should try to cut down routine meetings and follow-ups as much as possible to boost attendance, engage attendees, and create impactful momentum.

You may not want to use short online meetings for every topic or situation. Depending on the agenda and need for discussion, cut what you can and focus on items of impact all participants will benefit from hearing. For instance, in a routine department-wide call spanning the country or world, not every manager needs to outline a laundry list of everything he or she has accomplished in the last month. Create guidelines for each meeting (even routine ones) and give yourself only the time needed to successfully touch on each subject.

You also may not want to use short meetings with external participants (i.e., clients). Time limits on outside calls may make a participant feel rushed—something that doesn’t bode well for the business relationship.

Make Meetings Short and Sweet with These Tips

Of course, simply shortening the meeting may not completely eradicate the amount of wasted time. You may also want to:

  • Use tools to facilitate the meeting. Encourage engagement with online meeting tools such as individual videoconferencing and synchronous collaboration. Ensure you can share documents or important graphics online, and that you have a way to efficiently move the meeting along, allowing everyone to have their say, but reducing idle chit chat.
  • Create a clear outline. Some meetings start off slow. To keep things moving, create a short list of what has happened since the last gathering, what needs to happen, and potential obstacles or requisite steps that may stand in the way. Use that to drive the conversation forward.
  • Focus on action. Instead of using this time to outline achievements, drive further action. Retrospective reporting may work best in an alternative format such as an email.

Start out small with some simple changes to your meeting style, and gradually shorten the timing and invest in and/or embrace the tools and structures needed to achieve success. You may want to plan an honest conversation with participants on the next call about the structure of upcoming meetings and the changes to come, so they’re not completely surprised when your next meeting is only blocked for 20 minutes. Don’t try to cut down a routine hour-long meeting in one fell swoop, unless you need a drastic change to capture attention. Over time you should find that shortened, engaging meetings yield higher participation and better results.

photo credit: via photopin (license)

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.