Online Meetings: Keep Them Short and Engaging for Maximum ImpactOnline meetings are hallmarks of the modern business world, but some are more useful than others. And though it might seem counter-intuitive at first glance, a carefully constructed, short meeting often yields better results than the long, drawn out alternative.

Taking Action – The Rise of the Short Meeting

The length of an online meeting rarely improves the impact. In fact, longer meetings tend to create confusion, inspire fatigue, and discourage team member participation. As a result, many companies started to embrace the idea of shorter meetings, and seeing an uptick in attendance as a result.

A 10-30 minute meeting offers enough time to go through the checklist and make meaningful decisions without wasting time. While attendees may not have enough time to go into extensive detail, shorter meetings do keep meeting members focused on important tasks and actionable outcomes. Short meetings are perfect for routine brainstorming sessions and follow-ups, but long form meetings still play an important role. If you need to do a deep-dive into a project, a longer meeting may make more sense. The key to conducting an impactful meeting is finding the right balance.

Make the Most of Short Meetings

To capitalize on your meetings, you may need to do more than cut off employees mid-sentence when the time limit is up. Each meeting needs to engage and help every team member feel included. Here are some tips for making the most of a short (or long) meeting:

    • Use technology to your advantage. O3 World, a digital design and development company, developed a product called Roombot, which connects to conference rooms and alerts attendees when the meeting is coming to a close. The strict timeframe lends a sense of urgency that helps the meeting stay on point and avoid eating into another conference.

    • In addition to apps that help you manage time, consider all-in-one collaboration tools that include video, file sharing, and chat capabilities. Videoconferencing tools and integrative platforms such as SharePoint enhance meeting discussions. Encourage remote workers to use these tools frequently for short meetings with other employees.

    • Turn meetings into bonding experiences without extending the timeframe. Buddytruk, an app company that connects people looking to move something to truck owners, created a “penalty” for anyone who runs over the meeting timeframe—the last person talking after time is up must do 50 pushups. The idea started as a joke, but it promotes engagement and brings team members together.

    • Analyze and optimize each subsequent meeting. If you have longwinded team members or love to chat before a meeting, review each meeting and look for areas of improvement. One of the leaders in lean business, Toyota, served as a forerunner (pun intended) to the short meeting concept. To take a page from this major auto maker’s playbook, focus on pertinent information at each meeting and avoid wasting time on nonproductive matters.

    • Hold meetings as needed. If you wait for the once monthly meeting to discuss a laundry list of items, the resulting meeting can overwhelm attendees. Try holding several regular, small meetings designed to encourage action and ensure every team member is on the same page.


Try the Short Meeting on for Size

As you start to incorporate engagement tactics and new digital solutions into your online meetings, they may naturally shorten. Instead of going from a 1.5 hour long meeting to a 15 minute meeting format, take baby steps. Ask for feedback from meeting attendees, and schedule a longer meeting if a shorter timeframe doesn’t allow for the right level of interaction.

photo credit: A Book Apart: A Space Apart, November, 2015 via photopin (license)