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How To Make Meetings the Right Length

Use these examples to learn better time management in meetings.

December 02, 2021
Time Management

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How you use your time is one difference between a good leader and an average one. As we’ve gotten busier, more people are making poor decisions in how they invest their time.

I often ask leaders or sales coaches, “How much of your time is dedicated to leading your people or developing your team?"

This may be the most important part of their job, but the answer is often 25% to 35% of their time. This results in a less effective outcome.

One area to look at for enhanced time management is in your meetings. A huge amount can be accomplished in a short amount of time, but you must ask if it is effective, not just efficient.

How you use your time is one difference between a good leader and an average one. 

Knowing the Type of Meeting to Plan

One example to keep in mind comes from pro football: When a quarterback huddles, he’s meeting with his team for 10 seconds to share the next play. This is not a meeting to discuss individual players’ goals. It’s all about the next play. Similarly, if the coach calls a 60-second time out, he’s trying to regroup or adjust the cadence of the game to position the team for a better result.

In business, you have meetings of different lengths. The following are examples and tips for handling each.

RELATED: Being on Time, and Why It Matters

1. Eight at 8

I have a friend who oversees eight sales managers. During the pandemic, he needed to keep them aligned and on task. He launched a mandatory eight-minute virtual meeting at 8 am. Each person is required to share what they accomplished yesterday and what their top priority is for the day.                      

2. 15-minute update

Often, updating your team only takes 10 or 15 minutes. This is not a therapy session. This is just where we were, where we are, and where we are going (and what, if anything, needs to change to get there).

3. 30-minute one-on-one meetings

This one can be a moving target. You can accomplish a lot in 30 minutes, but if your goal is to have a meaningful discussion, it can be tough. My best advice is to stick to an agenda. If the nature of the discussion is not conducive to this, for example, brainstorming or dealing with a gray area topic, then set another meeting rather than cram too big a topic into too little time.                                                                                                           

4. 45-minute coaching session

Many leaders and managers try to fit coaching sessions into 30 minutes, and while you can check off several boxes, the question is, have you really helped the person take their game to the next level? I find that 30 minutes is not enough time to do that, so consider making these meetings 45 minutes. Spend the first five to 10 on quick updates, the next 15 to 20 on strategies, then the balance on the team member’s professional development.        

5. 60-minute leadership or sales meeting

Now you can really go deep. In 60 minutes you can incorporate effective training, get a good dialog going, and glean important insights. These meetings are especially important for focusing on the future, not just the now.


Time is a wonderful asset, but it can also be a liability if you allow it to control you. I would encourage you to take inventory of your meetings every six months or so and really question the effectiveness. You might even get a little gift of time in the process

About the Author

About the Author

Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com(link sends e-mail) or 301.275.0208.

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