Tackling The 90 Minute “1-Hour” Meeting

One Hour Meeting

How long does your weekly 1-Hour Update, or Check In, or Status meeting take? This is not a trick question. The typical 1-hour Check-In, Update or Status meeting takes between 75 and 90 minutes to get through. With the back to back meeting culture that most businesses have this overrun starts a ripple effect of lateness for the rest of the day. Some teams run their meetings with a detailed agenda and still find it difficult to get through it all on time. So, what’s going on here? Wasn’t the Agenda supposed to solve meeting overruns?

Not exactly….

The Agenda is a great tool to help meeting attendees focus their attention on substantive conversation. But when conversations spiral out of control the Agenda has no answer for this. There are two items that plague the 1-Hour Update Meeting;

* Presenter Overreach
* Questions

“Presenter Overreach”

Oftentimes presenters are left to make the decision on what to include in their status update. Without clear direction from leadership, what should be included is a moving target. Sometimes we want more and sometimes we want less. More often than not the employee, in their desire to satisfy their boss, includes more than what is needed which causes them to talk longer than necessary. Even when an employee has a smaller amount of information to cover, he/she will tend to keep talking longer than needed when following their verbose colleagues.
The solution to the overreach problem is for the meeting organizer/facilitator to…
1. Collect and Review the updates ahead of time.
2. Let each presenter know what information to include in their update or status for this week’s meeting.
3. Tell each presenter how much time they have to deliver their information.

“Questions”

A misconception about the Update Meeting is the expectation of Q&A after each update. A 5 minute update can easily turn into a 15 minute conversation when questions are allowed. And any meeting with more than five updates can easily go over the sixty minute mark! Meeting organizers should include a protocol of “clarifications only” during these meetings. This will be difficult to enforce initially, but in short order participants will understand the true purpose of the Update meeting; to share information. Business Meetings which include Q&A and debates are called Agreement Meetings where the purpose is to move work forward. Update Meetings are designed to ensure that the team is informed about eachothers’ activities. It is not a place for discussion.

In short, the way to keep a 1-Hour Update, or Status, or Check-In meeting to 60 minutes is to take control of the presentations and to limit comments to clarification instead of discussion. It is a simple solution. Try it! Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes.

The Meeting Coach

Back In The Saddle

Back in the Saddle
Back in the Saddle

In 2012 I confessed to a coach friend of mine that I wanted to start a blog. Immediately he launched into how difficult blogs are to write and maintain. “They are a complete time drain! No matter how hard you try, you just won’t find time to keep up with the constant writing.” We talked more about his writing and about what I would be writing about. It was a good conversation. Despite his warnings, I launched a blog anyway. In the beginning it was exciting. I kept up with the writing and enjoyed the creative process. But soon I life’s responsibilities rushed, and the blog took a back seat….way far in the back! He was right. I could not keep up with writing every week.

Since that time I have been continuing to develop my business, working more and more with software architects and app developers, network engineers, and data analysts. My work with these scientific types dove deeper into their daily challenges. One universal challenge that they all complained about was the Business Meeting. “What a waste of time these meetings are.”; they complained. There was the number one complaint by 9 our of 10 people I worked with, only to be surpassed by “poor leadership” at times. I committed to helping them address and potentially fix this nagging problem.

For the past 5 years I have been focused on providing tools and resources to IT professionals to help them manage business meetings. I’ve learned a lot about corporate cultures that foster good meeting performance and those that smash it to bits! I think that what I’ve learned can be useful to people plagued with poorly run meetings.

So, I’ve decided to start writing again. This time the focus will be on creating effective business meetings. I’ll try and share weekly what I’ve learned and what I’ve taught others to do. And….when I run out of things to talk about I guess I’ll stop writing. Until then….

Our first stop will be Tackling the 90 Minute 1 Hour Meeting!