How long should a meeting last?

Have you ever calculated how many hours a week you spend in meetings? Perhaps you count these hours when you have no time left for your regular work due to many scheduled or unplanned last minute meetings. How come you often feel exhausted and overwhelmed by uncompleted tasks although the purpose of team meetings is to improve communication, refresh group dynamics, solve problems, determine strategy and increase motivation? Since everyone has more or less the same experience, there is now more research on the impact of back-to-back meetings on employees and how such meetings can be more productive.

According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review with 182 senior executives from different sectors, 65% of the participants were unable to do their own work due to meetings, 71% said the meetings were inefficient, 64% said the meetings did not allow them to reflect on a topic in depth, and 62% said that the meetings did not create opportunities to bring the team closer. According to another study, 91% of meeting attendees say that they daydream during meetings, 39% sometimes sleep and 73% do other things.

Research by website Meetingking showed that most people can pay attention and focus for much shorter periods of time than one would expect.

Duration of MeetingsPercentage of people who pay attention
0-15 minutes%91
15-30 minutes%84
30-45 minutes%73
45+ minutes%64

Scheduling meetings in line with Parkinson’s law (work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion) can be the first step on the road to productive meetings. Online meetings can be set for 30 minutes (the average attention span) instead of the automatic setting of one hour. You may draw the attention of the participants to the meeting agenda and duration at the beginning of the meeting. Finally, remember that meetings where participants stand instead of sit are shorter and more productive.