New Year, New You? Start With a Meeting Diet

New Year, New You? Start With a Meeting Diet

I sat down to visit with a leader of one of our business units yesterday. The purpose of the visit was just to catch up. We’ve been friends for some time and work had been so busy lately we hadn’t even had a chance to say hello. It was great to see him. He carried his usual great smile and I was looking forward to hearing about all the good stuff, family, health, recent wins. As soon as we sat down he let out a great big sigh and said, “I need to go on a meeting diet!” I couldn’t help but laugh. What a great way to think about it.

Needless to say. “a meeting diet” seemed an appropriate topic for the New Year with all its resolutions and fresh starts -- so we chewed our way through the topic. We agreed that meetings and how they are conducted say a lot about a company and the people in it. Are they haphazard and disorganized? Or focused and productive?

We also discussed some of the benefits of having great meetings like: better use of time, successful engagement, and a more organized professional appearance.

I thought I’d share some of the learning. 

  • Meetings should rarely if ever be longer than 30 minutes. Lots of research on the topic that shows attention drops rapidly after 30 minutes and after 45 minutes you’ve lost ½ the room
  • Consider meetings ending on 20 or 50 past the hour, This gives people a chance to catch their breath, check mail, etc. before the next meeting.
  • All attendees need to know the type of meeting (Decision making, brainstorming, information sharing, checkpoint, etc.) This helps manage expectations and keep the meeting from wandering. It also help ensure the right people are in the room.  Read Radical Candor by Kim Scott for more on this.
  • Meeting leaders should be expected to outline the intention and expected outcomes of the meeting.   
  • Have a time keeper 
  • Recap the meeting decisions and actions at the end of the meeting and send them to all participants.

After we discussed the basics of a good meeting. We immediately laughed and said, “Well of course, but why don’t we do it?”  For the answer see….diets, fitness, new language or instrument adoption. LOL. Seriously, it’s as simple as ownership and discipline.

So here is the challenge to those willing to accept:  Lead and attend better meetings. Share your best practices across the enterprise and get 1 person to strive toward the same.

Here’s to success with all your goals in 2019!


Rick Nelson, is a TA Group partner and Chairman of Launch Consulting. Connect with him on LinkedIn.