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Too Many Meetings: How to Reduce Meeting Bloat

Day after day you are participating in Zoom Marathons.

We’ve all been there.

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But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

In this post, we will talk about how to reduce the meeting frequency in any team.

Eric Schmidt’s 8 Rules for Meeting Success

When business practitioners are faced with an operational problem they frequently ask: “What would Google do?”

We don’t see WWGD bumper stickers yet, but we’re getting close.

Google has been following a simple set of rules established by Eric Schmidt.

The goal was to make meetings more efficient.

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But what to do if the meeting is redundant in the first place?

Reducing Meeting Bloat

In a recent blog post we wrote about three simple tactics to tackle meeting bloat:

This was our concrete recommendation:

#1: Identify the Largest Time Sinks
  • Talk to your team and identify which meetings are too long → shorten those
  • Talk to your team and identify which meetings are happening too frequently → reduce their cadence
  • Talk to your team and identify which meetings are redundant → cut those or reduce the participant list

To make this more actionable we’ll add a set of prompts for each of these tactics:

🥱 Meetings Are Too Long

Ask:

  • Can we achieve this in half the time?
  • Can we achieve this in 5 minutes?
  • What is taking so long?
  • What could the team members be doing instead with their time?
  • Can we discuss this in writing?

🙄 Meetings Are Happening Too Frequently

Ask:

  • Can we have this meeting monthly instead?
  • Can we bundle this discussion into another meeting?
  • Can we discuss this in writing?

😡 Meetings Are Redundant

Ask:

  • Can we do this without a meeting?
  • Can we discuss this in writing (email; chat; documentation)?
  • Can we permanently cancel this meeting?

Best Practice:

GitLab is doing regular reviews of unnecessary meetings.

Recurring meetings are oftentimes established as meaningful points along a given journey. Don't hesitate to cancel them after their purpose has been served. Canceling meetings isn't a slight to those on the invite list. In fact, ridding multiple calendars of a meeting should be celebrated and conjure a sense of liberation.

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