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4 Tips For Running Effective And Efficient Company Meetings—Without A Conference Room


Startup team online meetings

Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” and I’ve seen that to be too true. 

Company-wide meetings are a huge waste of time.

Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” and I’ve seen that to be too true. 

If you make a meeting an hour, it will last an hour. If you give someone a day to complete a task, they’ll take the whole day. It’s human nature to fill the time allotted. And as a founder, you’re tasked with managing this inclination in an efficient and productive way.

When I first started my wellness company, Four Sigmatic, for example, one of the first things we encountered was how easy it was for company meetings to start filling our calendar: meetings to discuss projects, meetings for hiring, meeting to review internal processes, etc. And very quickly we had to start making decisions in order to ensure we weren’t spending all our time “meeting” about the things we were going to do—and instead spending our time doing the things that needed to be done.

Here are four strategies that my team has used to make our meetings work for us—not the other way around:

1. Keep company-wide meetings short and sweet. 

Most meetings get booked for 30 or 60 minutes.

But the truth is, most meetings don’t require that. In my experience, a meeting either requires a lot more time (because you’re digging deep into a project, idea, or issue), or very minimal time (because you just need a couple quick questions answered). 

Very little is accomplished in 30 or 60 minutes.

So, aim for one of two scenarios: either the task at hand is going to take half a day to get done right, or it’s going to take 5-10 minutes to chat about.

Which is it?

2. Only include the people who really need to be there.

Time adds up quick.

Let’s say you’re having a conference call and you have 50 employees in attendance. Even if that call is 30 minutes, that means one meeting just “cost” you 1,500 minutes of company time—and think about how many 30-minute meetings happen in a day at most companies. 

Question who absolutely needs to be present and for how long.

Does the graphic designer need to be there? The CMO? Too often, people show up to meetings just to “be there,” when in reality their time is better spent elsewhere.

3. Figure out which internal meetings are absolutely necessary—and nix the rest. 

Internal meetings are generally unproductive, dull, and pointless. 

Here’s what I mean:  

Unless you’re truly a project manager whose goal is to check in with multiple departments—from product development to design to operations, marketing, sales, etc.—you should be spending most of your time doing the thing you were hired to do. You should be organizing, creating, manufacturing, writing, or talking to customers—whatever your function’s main duty is—and putting that task ahead of “meeting” about it.

For example, when we first started as a company, we really tried not to have any internal meetings that had more than one-to-one. This was our way of maintaining maximum productivity. Eventually, we grew to a certain size where that was no longer feasible. So now we meet as an entire company, once per week, for 45 minutes—to give company-wide updates, acknowledge people, and increase morale.

That one 45-minute meeting replaces dozens of 30-minute meetings with that same information would have been shared over and over again.

4. Consider consolidating your meeting days. 

We’ve also found grouping meetings together to be an effective technique for time management.

Personally, I try to cluster larger group discussions on Monday morning, and save my one-on-one time for Fridays. Rarely, I’ll have meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I try to make the middle of my week more about getting things done.

See, Wednesdays at Four Sigmatic are Working Wednesdays. 

On Wednesdays, you’re not allowed to talk with the team—not even on Slack. The only time you can bother someone is if our website crashes, or a customer needs something immediately. Everything else internal related has to wait. (Of course, external partners will still get responded to.) 

Now, I’ve definitely been guilty of breaking this rule (it’s hard for a reason), but the purpose is to cultivate a culture that is hyper-focused on making strides to improve the business and push things forward. Tuesdays or Thursdays, then, become more collaborative working environments. 

Ultimately, managing time spent in meetings is a tough challenge for every company. Which is why you have to build the habit of constantly asking, “Is this meeting essential?”

Here are a few other related articles you might find helpful:

Founders, Don’t Let These 3 Common Startup Crises Sink Your Company

4 Major Fundraising Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make (And How To Avoid Them)

Founders, Forget About The Trendy Office Perks. Here’s What Really Makes A Workplace Cool

Founder of Four Sigmatic, and forever funguy. Born in Finland, lived in eight countries in three continents, & currently reside in sunny Southern California.

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