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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Meetings—How to Keep Them Short

A meeting should go on for only as long as it takes to reach its objectives. Typically, this takes much longer than it should. Here's how you can shorten your meeting time dramatically:


    • Ask yourself if the meeting is really necessary. If not, find an alternative, more efficient way of achieving your objective.

    • Be clear about the objective. If you are not clear about what you want to achieve, no one else will be and the meeting will drift aimlessly.

    • Make sure that the people who need to be present to make decisions can attend. If they can't attend, reschedule the meeting.

    • Inform people in advance of the objective and agenda. Ask them to come prepared to deal with agenda items.

    • Prepare an agenda. This document should

      • state the objective(s);

      • identify each step in the meeting;

      • indicate how long each item will take.


    • Start meetings on time. Don't wait for latecomers.

    • Get agreement on the objectives and the agenda items at the start.

    • Allocate specific times for each item on the agenda. This will allow you to better manage if certain items exceed their expected time allocation.

    • Ask for a volunteer to be timekeeper. Ask that person to let you know if you are falling behind on any particular item on the agenda.

    • Establish a "Parking Lot" on your flip chart. If issues unrelated to your meeting are brought up, ask if they can be recorded in the Parking Lot and addressed later. Typically, when an idea is recognized, the person bringing it up will let go of it.

    • Avoid repetition of ideas by recording them on a flip chart.

  1. Other strategies to the keep meetings short:

    • Run stand-up meetings on the shop floor or in the office to avoid wasting time getting to meeting rooms. People will generally want to sit after standing for more than fifteen minutes, so they will be less likely to drag out discussions.

    • Hold your meetings at the end of the day, scheduling them to wrap up at the official end of business. People will be motivated to finish on time.

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