Can I end a meeting sooner?

I noticed recently I am trying to end meetings sooner. Why? Because work related meetings can drag for a long time. Even beyond the original scheduled slot.

This can happen when there’s no one responsible to facilitate a meeting. Especially when there’s no list of topics to discuss or decisions to be made.

When I decide it should be a meeting, I make sure there’s a list of topics, questions, or decisions to be made. That needs to be in the invitation.

If there’s an opportunity or need for the attendants to prepare, add that to the invitation. That can cut down on the time of the meeting, and allow folks to feel more productive and involved. They will feel spending time on the meeting is justified.

I try to limit the number of attendees. Anything beyond 3 people, makes me wonder if it should be a meeting. If people have to miss the meeting, they can get the summary in the notes I email after the meeting.

Emailing notes is important. The facilitator doesn’t have to write down everything really. Only points discussed, questions that need to be answered or any follow-ups needed. And of course, decisions and actionable items in general, and who is responsible.

Extra tip đź’ˇ

Schedule hourly meetings for 50 minutes, and half-an-hour ones for 25 minutes. This gives the opportunity to attendants that have back to back meetings to stretch, visit the restroom, make coffee and clear their minds before their next meeting.


Gamification

After the short description of how I like running meetings, I’ve started playing a game recently. Can I end a meeting sooner than the time slot it we scheduled for?

I can do that when I am the organizer of course. But I will not pass on the opportunity to help others end their meetings sooner if I am just an attendee and I can find a polite way to suggest it.

Black woman remote entrepreneur having video conference with friend using smartphone sitting in living room late at night. Busy employee using modern technology network wireless doing overtime for job
Can I end a meeting sooner?

Here’s a few ways I can increase the chances of ending a meeting sooner:

  • Limit the number of attendees to the absolutely necessary folks
  • Be very well prepared with all your topics, questions, decisions to be made
  • As a facilitator, encourage attendees to stick to the topics and avoid rambling
  • Interrupt politely, and explain you are only doing this to manage time
  • Repeat you are not trying to be rude and you appreciate attendees’ time

When you get all the things you wanted out of the meeting and there’s still time left, you win! That’s the opportunity for you to end a meeting sooner.

Here’s my go to line:

Looks like we’ve covered everything. If you don’t have anything to add or ask on the topics we discussed, do you mind if we end this meeting sooner than scheduled?

My go to line to suggest ending a meeting early

When I think about this as a game, I increase the chances of actually doing it.

What about you? If you try it for week, how many minutes or even hours can you get back?

What are you up to Petros?

Head of Support at GitBook. Building Supportress, an opinionated helpdesk for calm SaaS companies based on my 9 years working and shaping GitHub Support. Writing 2D retro games. Check what I am doing now.

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