How to cut 1-hour meetings to 30 minutes

5 tips for shorter meetings.

The Meetingnotes Team
February 28, 2020

Do you have a hunch that some of your long, recurring meetings are getting in the way?

Take back those precious minutes. Tell your team you’re going to try an experiment — to cut long meeting times in half.

Watch the video above to see how.


Basically, I want you to go to your team and I want you to say, "Hey, let's try an experiment." I want you to take one of your one-hour long meetings and I want you to cut it in half.

Hey guys, Rob with Hugo here and today we're talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. No, it's not tacos. We are talking about how to cut a one-hour meeting down to 30 minutes.

So do you feel like sometimes that your time is being wasted in overly long meetings that can be accomplished little bit quicker and still have the same outcome, right? Like you'd still get all the value out of that meeting, but do we really need to take an hour? Well, if so, this video is for you.

Here are five steps to cut down a one-hour meeting down to 30 minutes.

Okay. Number one: Put your data in the agenda.

So your agenda might say that we're going to review some data, or review a deck, or review a project or, or look at something, but if the first time people are seeing that information is when they show up, it's going to take a lot longer to process, talk about and decide things based on that information. So put it up front.

Okay. Number two: Summarize your updates.

So a lot of meetings have a section where people are giving updates about what's going on. Again, we can use the agenda to really streamline that process by asking people to summarize their updates in advance. You know, a couple of bullet points in that meeting agenda.

And so what that does is it a, allows people to kind of clarify their thoughts, make sure that they're focusing on the right things and they don't kind of have this rambling explanation about what's going on. And it also sometimes—you know, sometimes a couple of bullet points is enough. And this can make your updates sections, which are often the longest part of the meeting, become the shortest, where everyone kind of looks at the bullet points. A few questions maybe are asked, and then we're moving on.


Okay. So number three is use a Parking Lot.

So a Parking Lot is a part of your meeting notes where you put things that you've deliberately decided not to talk about that are important. So if you're having a meeting about a specific topic, and that leads to other things that need to be discussed, either some ideas come up in a brainstorm that are really great or, maybe this topic impacts a few other projects or, or decisions. But those decisions really aren't part of this meeting...Put those in the parking lot.

Just drop those at the bottom of your notes. Say, Hey, we agreed to talk about X, Y, Z later,

Number four. And, and you—you know, this one's my favorite already because I love video—is Record a video before the meeting.

A lot of meetings, you spend time watching a presentation, someone who goes over some information. And then we all kind of watch that together, and then it's time for the discussion and the reason why everybody is there at the meeting in the first place.

You can cut out that entire presentation piece and actually give people more of an opportunity to think about how they're reacting to it by sending an an advance in the form of a video.

This could be a screencast. It could be a, a video that you record on your phone. It could be just a video where it's actually audio. There's a lot of ways to present information in advance.

What we do in some of our product meetings is someone will send out a video that says, "Here are the mocks for the feature that I was thinking about. Here's the rationale behind it. Come ready to talk about this at the meeting, and then we all can show up and have that discussion without having to go step by step through those mocks."

So great way to streamline your meetings and also just break things up. Break the day up, and let people consume information on their own time.

Okay. Number five is to Cap your meeting time.

In most organizations, we talk about free time, and if there is free time on your calendar, then we can book a meeting in that free time. And I think that this is crazy. It's crazy that we call this time free because your time and focus is the most expensive part of you being at work.

It's not free. It costs a lot.

Instead of thinking about all meaning time is free and available, I recommend that you and your organization cap the amount of time that any given person can spend an internal meetings. At Hugo, we have a 10 Percent Rule, which means you can only spend 10% of your work week in internal meetings.

Now, that doesn't count customer meetings and some other things, but that gives me four hours out of a 40 hour week to spend in meetings. That's not very much.

It means that every single minute I spend in a meeting is extremely precious. You know? It's like, "Oh man, I'm spending a whole hour of my four hour budget on this? This must be really important."

The 10% may not be right for you. That may just be insane, but a lot of professionals spend 30 to 40% of their week in meetings. Crazy. If you try and bring that back, if you say, "Hey, we're gonna make an effort here. We're going to cap everyone's time at 20%."

I think you will be amazed at how much more respect everybody has for each other's time in meetings and how meetings suddenly get shorter. And you know, some of the other tips that I've been using in this video take hold, because that's the only way that you're going to manage to do that. When you do look at all those hours you have to get work done to do focused incredible work to drive your business success forward.

So those are five tips on how to cut down some of your long meetings, chop them in half. Meanings can be a driving force for success in your company, but they can also be some friction that keeps you from doing focused work. So I hope that these tips help you drive your overall run time down on those meetings.

I'm Rob with Hugo. We do connected meeting notes software, and I'll catch you again soon.


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