4 Simple Rules to Cut Down on 'Evil' Meetings

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

Get a glimpse of how to overcome the mental and physical fatigue that is standing between you and your full potential.
Entrepreneur, Sales Expert and Author; Founder of Shore Consulting
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I hate meetings. I avoid them as much as possible. They bore me and all too often represent a colossal waste of time.

I am not alone in my thinking here, either. Management guru Peter Drucker felt the same way. Note his not-too-subtle take on the subject as stated in his classic work, The Effective Executive:

“Meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.”

Business meetings need to change -- like right now!

Related: How to Make Deathly Dull Meetings Fun Again

If I were running your meetings, I would implement these four rules immediately:

1. No end goal = no meeting

Every meeting should include a brief and clearly defined objective before ever getting scheduled and everyone attending the meeting should clearly understand this end goal. A goal indicates a bias for action, not merely a discussion. Everyone in attendance must agree to drive toward the goal as rapidly as possible.

2. Cut the planned meeting time in half

Determine how much time you need for the meeting and then divide it by two. Most 60-minute meetings I attend can easily be handled in 30. Give the meeting a firm time limit and watch everyone become amazingly efficient! (Shorter sentences, no unnecessary chatter, etc.)

Take this an extra step further by changing the default meeting duration in your Outlook or Google calendar from "60 minutes" to "30 minutes." Even better -- set it to "15 minutes"!

Related: The 7 Must-Know Rules of Productive Meetings

3. Limit the number of participants

The more people who attend a meeting, the more time wasted, and the harder it is to stay on target. (Think: “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth!”) Meetings with two people are far more productive than those with three, etc., assuming they are the right people -- so send meeting invitations selectively!

Jeff Bezos famously adheres to the "two-pizza rule": Never hold a meeting where two pizzas can't feed the entire group. If you work in a larger company, consider adopting this as a rule of thumb going forward!

4. Absolutely no tangents

Someone must play the role of "enforcer" to keep the conversation on point at all times. Of course, this means establishing a clear outcome for the meeting to begin with. No one wants the role of conversation police, but someone has to do it. “I’m sorry -- that might be an important topic, but it’s not for this meeting.”

Meetings still exist, of course, as a necessary evil. But you can significantly diminish the evil while unleashing your team's productivity by implementing these four very simple rules.

Related: 3 Small, Doable Ways to Become Wildly More Productive

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors are here to help you throughout the entire process of building your franchise organization!
  1. Schedule a FREE one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Choose one of our programs that matches your needs, budget, and timeline
  3. Launch your new franchise organization
Discover the franchise that’s right for you by answering some quick questions about
  • Which industry you’re interested in
  • Why you want to buy a franchise
  • What your financial needs are
  • Where you’re located
  • And more
Make sure you’re covered for physical injuries or property damage at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business

Latest on Entrepreneur