Meetings are a necessary evil. But some days I feel like my work day is plagued with meetings. From our morning scrum to weekly 1-on-1’s with our Account Strategists, it’s sometimes hard to find time to actually do work. Lately I’ve been scheduling short meetings back-to-back to leave larger uninterrupted blocks of productive time.

The Art of the 12-Minute Meeting

Stopwatch

Forcing a time constraint for meetings can help you recoup hours into your work day. Preparation is key to make the most of these abbreviated sessions! Make sure you have an agenda prepared (and distributed) prior to the meeting, and that your invitee list is pared down only to the most important folks. Try standing up for the duration and checking laptops at the door to keep everyone completely engaged for the duration. You’d be amazed how much more productive meetings are when people can’t relax too much or distract themselves with tweetdeck.

Less time together has some drawbacks though. Priorities are more important than ever – discuss important items first to be sure you reach closure. Non-critical items can be saved for another day … or better yet, resolved via email rather than a meeting. If you’ve minified the invite list (remember the ol’ 2 pizza rule) but there are more stakeholders, you’ll need to find time to type up meeting minutes and send those to all the pertinent stakeholders as well.

Each Meeting Should Have A Clear Purpose, and So Should the Attendees

Meetings come in a variety of flavors: Decision, Ideas, Status, Communication, and/or Planning. Short meetings are great for decisions and status meetings, but may not be suitable for large brainstorming assignments or long-term strategic planning. Choose your meeting duration based on your objectives.

Each attendee should also have a clear role in the meeting. Have someone man the clock, another take notes, and don’t forget about that whiteboard. Giving people an active role will keep them more completely engaged.

Moving Forward

Once you’ve dipped your toe into the 12-minute meeting pool, play around with the various aspects to make it work for you. Because you’re meeting for a short period of time, perhaps you should schedule three 12-minute meetings during the week to make sure you’re moving forward at a fast enough clip.

And goshdarnit, admit if it’s not working. Be fallible and willing to tweak the structure if you’re not accomplishing everything you could be in 12 minutes. A positive spin: at least it’s more than 10 minutes. A 10-minute meeting would just be ridiculous.

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