The Ideal Meeting — How Long Should A Meeting Last?

December 13, 2021 · 5 min readMeeting Culture

"This could've been an email." Though you may have never said it out loud, you've likely had this exact thought while sitting in a meeting. The same goes for anyone who's ever attended a meeting. In most situations, "this is could've been a grok is even more applicable." More on that later.

With employees interacting less due to ongoing pandemic precautions, successful meetings are now more important than ever. Meetings that run too long risk encouraging that unproductive sentiment, "this could've been an email."

This article will break down the different types of meetings and their possible lengths in order to help you determine the ideal length of your next meeting.

Meeting length vs effectiveness

There isn't a set amount of time for how long meetings ought to last — different issues require different amounts of time. Hence, what needs to be covered is a good indicator for how much time you'll need for your meeting. 

With that said, the types of meetings that will be covered here are:

  1. Brainstorming

  2. Agreement and alignment

  3. Information sharing

  4. Discussion

  5. Action planning

  6. Decision making

1. Brainstorming

Brainstorming meetings are for innovating, finding new approaches, and seeking out original solutions to problems. Typically, your brainstorming meetings will include a few or more of your brightest minds. You'll want to walk away with as many new, quality ideas as possible. An efficient session can last a little as fifteen minutes while a more thorough meeting can run up to forty-five minutes. Ideally, your brainstorming session should last around half an hour. Running past the hour mark puts you at risk for going around in circles.

2. Agreement and alignment

This is one of the most important meetings for you to hold. A successful alignment meeting helps your team align their goals and move forward as one cohesive unit. A meeting of this kind can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on how long it takes to ensure that everyone feels heard and empowered. It's important that whatever conclusion your team comes to, every team member feels like they're on the same page.

3. Information sharing

An information-sharing meeting is precisely what its name implies — an opportunity for everyone to share important information. Sometimes the information conveyed is just a quick share, and other times more in-depth sharing will be required. Depending on the amount of information that needs to be shared, these meetings can run anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. Providing visual aids will help to keep your meeting's attendees engaged.

4. Discussion

This is one of the most challenging meeting times to gauge. Discussion meetings serve a variety of purposes, so it's important that you plan this meeting in advance, know your end goal, and give everyone a chance to be heard and understood. This kind of meeting is good for getting things out in the open and fleshing them out. However long it takes to meet your meeting's goal is its ideal time.

5. Action planning

Action planning meetings are a step-by-step process — the more steps, the longer the meeting. Inform your attendees of the specific goal you'd like to address in the meeting beforehand so that they can come prepared with suggestions. After an action planning meeting, you should feel that everyone is equipped to move forward with precision. Like discussion meetings, action planning meetings' lengths will be determined by the number of steps that are needed to meet their goal. 

6. Decision making

Successful decision-making meetings are an essential part of every prospering business. These meetings ensure that the right decision is made when it comes to guiding your business towards a successful future. 

A key part of holding a successful decision-making meeting is to create a clear agenda that addresses every essential action item. Depending on the depth of the issues to be discussed, your decision-making meeting should range from fifteen minutes to an hour for more serious matters.

Five tips to help you run a successful meeting

Becoming a master meeting-runner takes time and experience. Even so, having a good plan goes a long way. Here are a few tips to help.

1. Bring out the best in your team

When you schedule a meeting, you want to be sure that your team will be at their most productive. One way to make this happen is to ask your employees when they prefer to hold the meeting. Some feel that they're most effective in the mornings while others take time through the day to find their best working pace. Hold meetings during your employee's preferred times if you want the best from them.

2. Think about how many are attending

As you're planning out the time you'll need and how to use it efficiently, you'll need to know how many people will contribute to your meeting. If key stakeholders will be at the meeting, you may need some extra time.

3. Time your agenda

Planning an agenda will help you stay organized and keep your meeting focused on the topics you want to cover. Allotting time slots for each talking point will not only hyper-focus the meeting process, but it'll also help to make sure the meeting doesn't go over time.

4. Be open to feedback

The best leaders are focused but flexible. Each member of your team will have an opinion on how things are going, and they may see something you don't. Allow yourself to evolve by asking for feedback on your meetings.

5. Plan to end early

A simple and effective way to get your team to leave a meeting happy is to surprise them with a little extra time. If they have back-to-back meetings, ending a meeting even five minutes early gives employees time to reset and prepare for what's next. Who doesn't love finding out they have a little extra time on their hands?

Run your best meeting with Grok

We know that creating the most productive meetings can be daunting — that's why we're here to help. Grok provides a library of functional, automated meeting playbooks and templates to help plan your next meeting. Grok also offers meeting coaching to help you evolve into a master meeting leader. Learn more about our meeting templates before you hold your next meeting and see the difference Grok can make for you.

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