Reduce Meetings With Agendas-Agile Marketing-Timers

Reduce Meetings With Agendas-Agile Marketing-Timers

Reduce Meetings With Agendas-Agile Marketing-Timers
Reduce Meetings With Agendas-Agile Marketing-Timers

“We probably need to have a meeting about that.”  “Let’s just discuss that in our weekly meeting.”  “Put a meeting on my calendar.”  These phrases are heard daily in marketing offices around the world, but adding meetings to our calendars isn’t doing anybody any good.  A recent survey revealed that 24% of marketers blame unproductive meetings for wasting time during their day, and the average employee is in meetings a shocking 31 hours per month.  
Culling meetings from your calendar entirely is a tempting prospect, but it’s probably unrealistic.  Instead aim to cut hour-long meetings down to thirty minutes at the most, never go to a meeting without an agenda, and use the agile practice of stand-ups to turn weekly status meetings into efficient, productive moments.

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No More Hour-Long Meetings

Most meetings get scheduled for an hour by default, regardless of how long they will actually take. Then they tend to follow Parkinson’s law, which states that tasks will expand to fill the time allotted for them.  To address this tendency, reduce the default time for a meeting from one hour to thirty minutes, and let all attendees know there will be a hard stop (i.e. the meeting must end) at that time.  Make sure there is a clock in the room, and assign someone to be the timekeeper. 
This person should provide regular reminders of the time remaining to keep a strong sense of urgency driving everyone forward.  It’s possible that some meetings will still require the full hour, but it will quickly become clear which ones aren’t thriving in the new shorter format. Then you can reassign them to their original hour-long slot.  Others, however, will easily complete their goals within the shortened time frame. If you can shorten just four hour-long meetings per week, that will save you a full 8 hours per month.

Make Agendas and Action Items Prerequisites for Meetings

Most of us wouldn’t consider starting a new marketing strategy without a detailed plan of attack, yet we’ll willingly walk into a meeting with a nebulous goal like “figure out budget.”  A clear, concise agenda should be absolutely required for every meeting you attend. If there’s not one, offer to create it. If you know there will be people there who tend to wander off task, post the agenda on a whiteboard or a screen and refer to it often.  For example, if you’ve got four key items and just an hour budgeted, then make sure you’re not spending more than 15 minutes on each one.  
Even if you’re not the one officially running the meeting, everyone will be thankful that it’s being kept in line. Nobody wants to spend all day in a conference room.  Whenever possible end the meeting with a recap of action items and who will be responsible for them.  There’s nothing worse than leaving a meeting with the feeling that nothing will be done about the topic you just discussed. And if you feel that way about every meeting that you go to, your week can quickly feel like a demoralizing, pointless march from conference room to conference room.

Daily Stand-ups Replace All Departmental Status Meetings

The agile practice of daily stand-ups may sound counter to the goal of reducing the time we spend in meetings, but in reality they can replace much longer status meetings and reduce the number of times your team needs to meet every week.  Stand ups have only three topics: what you did yesterday, what you plan to do today, and any blocks that are preventing you from accomplishing your goals.  Each person’s recap should take only a couple of minutes, so even a big department can complete a stand up in less than 20 minutes.

To work most effectively stand ups should:      
  • Take place daily, in the same place and time.     
  • Start precisely on time, regardless of who is absent.    
  • Be run by a leader whose sole job is to keep everyone strictly on topic.     
  • Have a cooperative, collaborative mindset rather than a “look at everything I did!” mentality.    
  • Have all attendees standing up so there is no temptation to lounge or run long.
Daily stand ups will work best in conjunction with project-driven sprints and other agile marketing tactics. Check out this Guide to Agile Marketing for more details on transitioning to this ridiculously valuable marketing strategy.

How Many Hours Will You Save?

Cutting hour-long meetings in half can shave off 8-10 hours of meetings from your month, and introducing short, super-productive stand ups could completely eliminate another 4 hours.  If you could go from the average of 31 hours of meetings per month to 23 hours at the most, or, dare we even think it, just 19 hours per month, imagine all you could accomplish!  Nineteen hours of meetings per month means less than one hour of every day is spent in meetings.  That’s something worth thinking about. Let’s not put a meeting on the calendar to discuss it.

This is the fourth in a series of articles on how marketers can have a more productive day. Additional articles include:      
You can also download the whole series collected in “A (Better) Day in the Life of a Marketer” ebook.

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The Author: Andrea Fryrear
                                           Andrea Fryrear
Years ago I was leading content marketing for a SaaS company, and my team was drowning. We couldn't keep up with the agile software development team, and I was tired of running from fire to fire. I convinced my boss to let me transform our marketing team into a proper agile marketing team, and I've been hooked ever since.   
After I wrote and spoke about that first transformation, I quickly began fielding requests from my fellow marketers to help them do the same. Eventually I left brand-side employment to co-found AgileSherpas and work full-time to transform the way marketers everywhere get work done.   
Since AgileSherpas was founded in 2017 we've helped over 2,500 marketers at dozens of organizations to move from high stress to high performance. We offer certifications in Agile Marketing Fundamentals (ICP-MKG) and Agile Marketing Leadership (ICP-LEA), as well as organizational design consulting for marketing leaders who want to recreate their teams from the ground up. 
Our experienced coaches guide new agile marketing teams through the early days of their journey and train internal agile leaders to help the changes stick. More details on how we work with marketing organizations is available here:  Most recently I've published my second book, Mastering Marketing Agility (, which distills the learnings from 5 years of working with agile marketing teams into an entirely new framework called Rimarketing. 
The book shows you exactly how we implement this system with the teams we work with at AgileSherpas, offering a detailed roadmap for marketers looking for a better way to get things done.   At this point I'm pretty much a professional agile marketing nerd, so if you're looking for someone to talk about marketing agility in any capacity, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm an international keynote speaker and frequent webinar and podcast guest.

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