The 15-Minute Meeting Proposal

I once was on a project where we had an hour and a half meeting EVERY SINGLE DAY to update everyone on how the rest of the team was doing.

Nice thought, but pretty f*cking stupid, because I’d get out of there and my brain cells would be wasted, half falling asleep in a meeting, and dull for the rest of the day.

A good part of the productive morning (for me), totally wasted.

A meeting every day?


I kept wanting to skip the meeting to see if they’d miss me, but I was heading a division so… I couldn’t exactly nip off for a nap.

My new proposal

A meeting in 15 minutes or less*

Why do we have meetings?

This may sound impossible, but if you have a meeting it’s for 2 things:

  • To make a decision
  • To inform people

In both cases, you want or are asking for feedback, which will lead to action on somebody’s part, either to adjust what you’ve just presented, or the parties involved will carry out the actions from the meeting.

If you aren’t doing either, then what’s the point?

If you just want to inform people that things are going fine in marketing, then send an email and if they’re interested, they’ll read it and it’s the same in meetings, so why are you wasting time gathering everyone together physically?

Meeting does not mean Managing

For managers out there, meetings are not managing. “Meeting” is the key word here, not “Managing”. By gathering people together for an hour every morning to chat, it is NOT managing. It is MEETING.

It is not your job to babysit them to MAKE SURE that they are aware of the situation.

It is THEIR job to process that information and to keep alert at all times so that they can execute their daily tasks correctly.

If they don’t read their emails, they’ll learn soon enough that you don’t call for meetings just for the hell of it. That when you call a meeting, you mean it and they’ll show up. And if you email them (don’t email them every hour), it’s an important email.

*Any exceptions to 15 minutes or less?

Of course. If you are gathering for a decision that involves a number of parties, you clearly cannot solve something in 15 minutes. What you can do, is increase that to half an hour, to an hour, depending on the complexity of the problem.

Each party must be informed ahead of time when and what the meeting is about, and come prepared. If they are not prepared, you cut the meeting short and meet at a time when both parties can talk intelligently about what’s going on.

I believe half an hour to an hour (maybe) is enough for a major decision, because what happens in meetings most of the time (from my experience) is people say one point, and then it gets repeated like a broken record for the entire meeting. Everyone wants to chime in on the same point with different perspectives.

That is NOT productive. Get the point from one person, jot it down, move on. If someone else tries to bring it up again, say it’s already on the list. Move on.

Or, if you really want to work on the problem all day, make the teams sit in one room together and as they each work independently, they can call out questions or inform the other party right away instead of having to attend a meeting to give an update.

Who to invite?

Only invite the people who are going to do the actual work, or take action on what the decision is.

Don’t invite people who just want to know what’s going on. They’re useless to the meeting and will probably bog the process down. Inform them later of what the decision is, and get feedback if you wish.

Everyone must be on time

This doesn’t work if Lisa from Marketing wanders in 5 minutes late to a 15 minute meeting, holding a cup of Starbucks in her hand because she left to get REAL coffee.

Everyone, must be on time. And if they’re not, they miss the meeting and have to get the information second-hand.

If they feel slighted, it is not your problem. You set the time for the meeting and if it was that important, they’d have been there.

With that being said, don’t set meetings for 7 a.m. Be reasonable considering the traffic in your city and the normal working hours of a day.

Oh, and don’t be late, yourself.

Agenda & Follow-Up Email

It is also the person’s job (who is hosting the meeting) to set an agenda of what they are going to cover in 15 minutes, and to send a follow-up email of the actions he/she has noted down to let everyone know what they have to get done.

This is not a sign for people to NOT take notes during a meeting. If you don’t come with a notepad and pen, and you don’t jot down important information, don’t expect it to be in the email, other than the noted action items.

Oh but what a dream world.
Anyone else think this is possible?

(Or gripe about meetings if you want. I love a good meeting horror story)

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.