Timely Tips for Shorter Meetings

By Lisa Gschwandtner

Time spent in meetings could be time spent making sales. So don’t waste it. If your meetings aren’t productive, your salespeople won’t be either. Use these time-honored time-management tricks to keep your meetings focused, succinct and on track.

Power Hour
There’s no law that says meetings have to last an hour or more. When preparing for meetings, shoot for 45 minutes, tops. After 40 minutes or so, attention spans start to fade, and agendas start to wander.

Starting Gate
Start your meetings on time. This shows respect for the people who arrived promptly and sends a clear message to all latecomers. Close the door to make a quick sneak-in more uncomfortable for stragglers.

Break Down
Present your material in bite-sized bits. Try a five-minute training unit on prospecting or overcoming objections. Or, arrange for a top performer to give a five-minute talk about a personal strength.

Short and Sweet
Don’t let one person dominate the discussion or diminish the focus of the meeting. Keep a close eye on the time with a timer or watch, and use it to keep prattlers in line. If an important issue comes up, make a note of it and promise to address it at another time, then re-direct the conversation back to the agenda. Consider building time into the meeting’s agenda for useful digressions.

Hand It Over
Whenever possible, use handouts to make announcements or impart simple information. This is also a good way to recognize small accomplishments.

Keep the pace moving. If the meeting starts to wind down or all major points have been covered, end the meeting early. Promise attendees that if you start on time, you’ll get out on time. Stick to that promise, even if it means skipping a topic and addressing it at a later date.

Positive Reinforcement
Emphasize the importance of timeliness in job descriptions, performance reviews and in individual meetings.