According to the experts, our attention spans have been decreasing through the years (in fact, there’s a 43% chance you might not make it to the end of this blog), while our meetings have been increasing. Statistics show the average length of a meeting has increased by 10% in the last 15 years; the average duration of a meeting is now between 31 to 60 minutes.
In America, workers hold approximately 11 million meetings a day, which equals 55 million meetings per week and 220 million meetings per year.
Why so many meetings? If you have an agenda, a meeting room booked and the right people attending, then your meeting technically should be productive, shouldn’t it?
The average duration of a meeting is between 31 to 60 minutes
Could we be more productive?
Could we be more productive in our meetings? Absolutely. So why haven’t we got this right? Why are we scheduling meetings for an hour, when we could easily achieve our objective in just 15 minutes? For some, it’s as simple as an old project management rule: “work expands to the time you schedule for it.”
“Work expands to the time you schedule for it.”
What can we do about it? We could consider reducing the amount of time we allocate to our meetings. A perfect example is Marisa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, who allocates 15-minute meeting slots to all meetings across the business. Perhaps this could work for you and your team?
“What is our intention for this meeting? What’s important? What matters?” – Oprah Winfrey, – High Performance Habits: how extraordinary people become that way
We suggest that it could. Human beings only have a limited attention span, which is between 10-18 minutes. After this time, our minds start drifting off. Taking into consideration our attention spans, should our meetings be in 10-18-minute time slots? Could you reduce down your agenda to this amount of time? Can you still inspire, educate, make decisions or get to the point in this amount of time?
10 – 18 minutes
Winston Churchill delivered many inspirational speeches, including the iconic “We shall fight on the beaches” which was 12 minutes and 37 seconds. Queen and David Bowie wrote ‘Under Pressure’ in approximately 10 minutes, and Paul McCartney scribbled down the lyrics to ‘Yesterday’ in less than a minute. In more recent times, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, inspired millions in a TedTalk lasting just 14 minutes and 58 seconds, where she addressed the issue “why we have too few women leaders”. Even our very own Peter Otto, at the recent Workplace Innovation Forum, shared what drives Innovation, ideas and technology in a total of 18 minutes.
If these leaders and artists can inspire nations, change the course of history, share their insight and deliver important messages in under 18 minutes, perhaps we can also implement a slight change in our own meeting agendas?
For some added inspiration (if your attention span managed to make it to the end of this blog), here’s the video of Peter sharing his insight at the Workplace Innovation Forum.