The Communication Book by Mikael Krogerus

(Martin Jones) #1

Why meetings take so long

It is one of the great mysteries of the modern world of work: why are
meetings so exhausting? And why do they take so long?
According to Seth Godin, there are only three kinds of meetings:

· Information: a meeting in which the participants are informed about

something (whether they like it or not).

· Discussion: a meeting which aims to give input or direction, or to receive


· Permission: a meeting in which one side proposes something, in the

hope that the other says yes (but has the right and the power to say no).

What often makes meetings frustrating is the fact that different people
might think it’s a different kind of meeting. Here are some tips to make
meetings run more smoothly:

The fifteen-minute rule

Parkinson’s Law states that Work expands so as to fill the time available
for its completion (and not according to how complex it really is).
Therefore it makes sense to limit the time of meetings. Incidentally,
studies show that the attention span of the average person is between ten
and eighteen minutes. Ideally, you should use a timer. When it rings, the
meeting is over – immediately.

The question rule

There are three types of question that you can ask in a meeting: first,
comprehension questions; second, questions to support the process (for
example, to make sure that everyone has really understood everything and
is talking about the same thing); and, third, questions that show how much
you know, in order to underscore your own position or challenge another
person. All three types of question are legitimate, but they should not be
mixed: first come comprehension questions, then questions about the
process, then debate questions.

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