There is a principle that says the larger the desk the more stuff you will keep on it. The same goes for suitcases, the bigger the suitcase the more room to pack more stuff. Though you’ll never wear or even pull out most of the things you pack, at the time, you thought it was important. If instead, I gave you a suitcase half the size you would have to be more discerning about what is really important and bring only the necessities.

This mysterious principle applies to meetings as well. The more time allotted for a meeting the more stuff we pack into it. Yet, if I cut the meeting time in half you would be faced with the same situation our traveler had. Deciding which items were musts and vital. Many are already doing sure only the important items are included in their meetings but there is one other item to consider: time. Do you have too much time scheduled for your meetings? Even if we do a great job of culling down our agenda items, if we schedule a 30-minute meeting we often magically fill up the 30 minutes or some would say 35 minutes. What fills your meetings? Is it always important and valuable information? If not, I have an idea for you. Stand up.

The next time you have a 30-minute meeting try and hold a standup meeting. A standup meeting is not a meeting held by a stand-up guy but rather a meeting without chairs. Sound crazy? It might be, but it works like a charm. When people arrive at a standup meeting they notice that there is no place to sit and get comfortable or relax. Instead, people remain in a posture that naturally signals, "let’s get things done". When people are standing they are less likely to wax and wane about philosophies or be distracted. Meeting distractors are also less likely to be tolerated. In fact, you might hear statements like, “Hey, stop goofing around. Let’s get through our agenda.” Or, “Team can we put our phones away and focus so we can complete our agenda?” These are signals that colleagues are ready to meet and get more done in less time. With an effective standup meeting, you have given everyone the gift of time. Let me add one last thought. Please be considerate for those who have disabilities, plan accordingly and make necessary accommodations. 

Standing up signals, “Don’t settle in. This isn’t going to take long.” This productivity tip can also be carried over into one on one meetings. If someone unexpectedly walks into your office and you only have a few moments then stand up, walk around your desk and greet them before they sit down. A simple greeting like, “Hi Mike good to see you, is there something I can do to help you?” This signals to your colleague that you don’t have time to sit and chat but you are concerned, if possible, in helping him meeting his needs. The next time you want to keep a short meeting short, try standing up for meetings and make a stand for saving time and getting more done.

Our Creating Space with Meetings will help you and your colleagues have fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more productive meetings.

Garrett Miller