New remote meeting timing etiquette: Start on the hour, cap it at 45 mins

If you read this, chances are you spend a significant amount of your day in meetings — these days, likely video meetings.

During the first lockdown, it seemed like there was a moment when non-essential meetings were cut, or shortened. A moment of relief, almost. Then the new reality settled in, and we were right back to the usual meeting schedule. Only this time, meetings were truly back to back, in ways that only remote meetings ever can be.

Hopping from call to call without breaks doesn’t work, and it doesn’t help. It’s too exhausting, and people are constantly distracted during their meetings typing up the follow-ups for their last meeting or catching up on their current one. Either way, they’re not there for the meeting, and a meeting with distracted participants is a bad meeting because it doesn’t respect anyone’s time.

So today, I’d like to propose a new remote meeting etiquette regarding the timing of meetings. It’s simple. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky type situation but a workable approach, I promise. 2 simple rules. Here they are:

  1. Every remote meeting starts on the hour.
  2. No meeting lasts more than 45 minutes.

Every meeting starts on the hour so that no matter how short or long the meeting might go, the synchronized (dare I say standardized?) time makes for the biggest possible compatibility. It reduces friction and transaction costs.

No meetings lasts more than 45 minutes simply so that there’s a quick break to grab drinks, write 1-2 quick follow up messages, and mentally prepare for the upcoming meeting.

This raises the quality of every meeting because everyone — and especially the decision makers in the room that everyone else shows up on time for — will have a chance to be prepared. Everyone’s time is respected, there’s less stress before and after.

Maybe most importantly, that way it’s possible to get through a day of meetings without then having to go through all of those meetings again trying to do all the necessary follow-ups — without which the meetings themselves likely will be in vain! So this is doubly respectful of everyone’s time.

Let’s face it, every 60 minute meeting can be done in 45. If you need more, do a proper workshop. If you need less, excellent!

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