Sharpen your focus and tighten your time frames to get more done in less time The 25 Minute Meeting goes beyond "cut to the chase" and shows you how to take back your work day with smarter planning and more productive action. Meetings have become a de facto way of working, and as they pile up and stretch to interminable lengths, they eat up our days and sink productivity--if they are poorly planned and run. Done well, meetings are short, sharp, productive affairs that provide critical time and space for the interactions that drive business forward. This book shows you how to effectively and efficiently recover your time with a roadmap to the 25-minute meeting. A clear framework walks you through the entire meeting process, with emphasis on timing and focus, with illustrative case studies showing how real-world meetings have transformed from painful to purposeful with a few simple changes. From purging the invite list, to shutting down irrelevant tangents and facilitating more efficient communication, this book can help you reclaim your lost hours without sacrificing collaboration. * Learn the art and science of conducting short, useful, purposeful meetings * Follow a clear framework for meeting planning, preparation, and participation * Assess your meetings' effectiveness using helpful checkpoints in each chapter * Boost your meetings' impact with variety and visuals--without adding unnecessary time A well-run meeting is a goldmine of opportunity for Getting Things Done; it is where the diverse set of talents on your team come together into a whole of achievement--it is your most valuable commodity. It's time to leave dusty, boring, time-sucking meetings in the past and revolutionize the way we come together. The 25 Minute Meeting shows you a fresh, more productive approach to working, cooperating, collaborating, and communicating the 21st century way.
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As a leader of busy teams, it’s important to me to continue finding ways to balance productivity at work with what’s important to all of us outside the office … life! Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are amongst those that have offered practical tips on how to make meetings more productive, but it’s trusted team facilitator and workplace performance guru, Donna McGeorge who really brings it altogether in this great read on how to practically reduce the many, many, many, (… many) unproductive hours we spend in meetings for meetings’ sake. I thought I’d hit a personal best getting some of my meetings to 45 minutes but clearly there’s room to improve!
— Cath Stone, Director Donor Services, Red Cross Blood Service
Immediately useful. At least three changes I can make this week to get more out of the meetings I need to be at, and get out of those I don’t.
— Anne-Marie Johnson, ACA, GAICD, Director Professional Services
For a large number of modern day executives meetings are a necessary evil — whether global, regional or local, conducted face to face or virtually across multiple time zones, meetings are a way of life. Unfortunately, many meetings don’t achieve the intended purpose of communication, alignment or execution while wasting valuable time and energy! I applaud The 25 Minute Meeting which tackles not just the ‘why’ of meetings but also the ‘how’ of saving 35 minutes per traditional 60-minute meeting!
— Daryl Mahon, Vice President Human Resources - Ford Australia & New Zealand, Ford Motor Company
Meetings are a highly luxurious, even decedent way to get work done. When we get a bunch of people together for a chunk of time, we ought to ensure that we maximise this time. But unfortunately, we often don’t. We too often get too many people together for too long with no clear focus or process to achieve the outcomes. In The 25 Minute Meeting, Donna McGeorge shows you how to half the length of your meetings, and double their impact. Full of practical strategies that work, this little book packs a big punch. Give this to everyone you meet with and change the meeting culture around you today.
— Dermot Crowley, thought leader and best-selling author of Smart Teams and Smart Work
It is rare that you can read a book, immediately apply practical advice tips and tools and change the way you work. If meetings continue to be a drain on your time, give this book a try — a great read.
— Gayle Antony, General Manager, Global Learning and Development, Nissan Motor Company
The 25 Minute Meeting is the game changer for organisations and leaders to get laser focused on what matters. The default one-hour meetings mean people aren’t thinking consciously about what the purpose of the meeting is or what the ideal outcome needs to be. In a world of trying to do more with less, The 25 Minute Meeting is the disruptor to create a productive and high performing team.
— Jane Anderson, Australia’s most awarded personal branding expert, author of 5 books, certified speaker, mentor to industry leaders
If you roll your eyes at yet another meeting invite in your calendar. If you leave meetings wondering what the purpose was or questioning what was actually decided. If you would love to have more time in your calendar every week, then Donna McGeorge has the answer. This book is a life changer. Turn painful meetings into purposeful ones with this gem of a book that’s jam packed with tips, tools and exercises to make meetings more fun and all about adding value versus becoming a value drain. And even better — it’s a good, quick read that is instantly actionable. An absolute must read.
— Janine Garner, networking, collaboration & leadership expert, best-selling author of It’s Who You Know
First published in 2018 by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
42 McDougall St, Milton Qld 4064
Ofﬁce also in Melbourne
Typeset in 12/15 pt Bembo Std
© John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd 2018
The moral rights of the author have been asserted
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (for example, a fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review), no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All inquiries should be made to the publisher at the address above.
Cover design by Wiley
Cover image © Barks/Shutterstock
Internal illustrations by Donna McGeorge
Disclaimer The material in this publication is of the nature of general comment only, and does not represent professional advice. It is not intended to provide specific guidance for particular circumstances and it should not be relied on as the basis for any decision to take action or not take action on any matter which it covers. Readers should obtain professional advice where appropriate, before making any such decision. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the author and publisher disclaim all responsibility and liability to any person, arising directly or indirectly from any person taking or not taking action based on the information in this publication.
Figure 1.1: the kinds of meetings
Figure 3.1: the Clarity–Scarcity–Urgency triangle
Figure A: the three steps to 25-minute meetings
Figure 4.1: the 3 P’s
Figure 4.2: know your why
Figure 4.3: stakeholder mapping example
Figure 4.4: stakeholder mapping for meetings
Figure 4.5: meeting roles
Figure 4.6: process components
Figure 5.1: the 3 P’s of showing up
Figure 6.1: the 3 P’s of stepping up
Figure 6.2: Scan, Focus, Act
Figure 6.3: Scan, Focus, Act timing
Figure B: the three ways to add value
Figure 9.1: processing times for images vs words
Figure 9.2: visual representation
Figure 9.3: visual representation
Figure 9.4: example of graphic recording
Figure 9.5: sample visual icons
Your 25-minute meeting roadmap
Figure C: immediate plan of action
Table of Contents
Donna McGeorge makes work work.
She is passionate about enhancing the large amount of time we spend in our workplace (too much, for many) to ensure it is effective and productive, as well as enjoyable.
Donna has worked with managers and leaders throughout Australia and Asia–Pacific for over 20 years. She delivers practical skills, training, workshops and facilitation to corporates — such as Nissan Motor Company, Jetstar, Medibank Private and Ford Motor Company — so they learn to manage their people well and produce great performance and results.
Her CV reads like her eclectic record collection (yes, classic vinyl): Manager of Theatre, Sports & Concert Tours for the UK-based Keith Prowse; Asia–Pacific Organisational Development Manager for Ford Motor Company in Shanghai, China; as well as roles at Telstra, Qantas, Ernst & Young and Ansett.
She lives on 20 acres in Heathcote, Victoria, a region known for its world-class shiraz, but her most creative moments come while sipping tea on her verandah, gazing at the rolling hills, alongside her husband, Steve, and dog, Prudence.
Donna believes that workplaces are complex, but not hard. More often than not it’s getting the simple things right, consistently, that has the greatest impact.
She also knows that when we decide to be intentional, we can surprise ourselves with what we can achieve. Read on and you’ll soon see.
Wow! This has been such an interesting ride and there are so many people who have been part of the journey.
The team at Wiley — and what a team! Ingrid and Lucy, you understood my vision for this book and helped me to bring it to life. I am so grateful to you for being part of a turning point in my career and life.
Kelly Irving — I could not have written this book without you, particularly in those moments where I was having a bad day and felt like nothing was working. A short text and things got right back on track. Your insight and intelligence are nothing short of extraordinary, along with your direct and on-point feedback.
Tracey Ezard, Lynne Cazaly and Maree Burgess — my brains trust. You got me through the ups and downs of creative flow, fed me an appropriate beverage at those times and spent long days on the couch (and phone) listening to my ramblings, being my sounding board and kicking my butt when needed. This will long be remembered as the book that was birthed in Bali. You talented and amazing women have my back at every turn.
Alexandra Martindale — the thing about being a creative type is that you have lots of ideas, every day, about things you could do: products to market, books to write and opportunities to explore. Alex, you keep me focused and on track. You also kept the business going and our social media presence alive while I had my head down writing. Any time I popped my head up with a ‘Hey, I’ve had an idea!’, you would acknowledge, record and then remind me of my focus.
Emma McGeorge — my darling girl. You have quickly discovered the challenges of the modern corporate worker and have been waiting with bated breath for the publishing of this book: ‘Mum! The world NEEDS this book!’ You are the inspiration for much of my writing as I strive to create a better corporate working environment for everyone, and particularly you.
Finally, and anyone who knows me so GETS this … to my wonderful husband of 27 years, Steve McGeorge. To put it simply, you are of service. When my head is down, I sometimes don’t notice that you have swapped out an empty cup of tea for a fresh one, or popped a snack by the computer to keep me going when I forget to stop and eat. Your unconditional love and support has made not just this book, but the life we lead possible. I could not do anything that I do without you. I’m blessed.
We all know it.
They suck up our energy and enthusiasm for life at work.
Many of us are time-poor, stressed out, overwhelmed and on the verge of ‘death by meetings’. Our calendars are full of irrelevant or tedious back-to-back ‘catch-ups’ and our email is overloaded with messages screaming for attention.
Every time we get a chance to breathe and catch up on some ‘real work’, our computers ding! toremind us of another pointless meeting that is starting in five minutes.
Last year, I put the following post up on Facebook:
Meetings seem to be the de facto way of working yet they aren’t always as effective as they could be. In fact, most people roll their eyes at the mention of meetings … I’m researching for my new book and would love to know what is the one thing you HATE MOST about workplace meetings?
Here are the top 10 responses I got back:
That you have a meeting to get ready for the meeting, and a meeting after to go over the meeting (like having to clean the house before the house cleaner comes).
People showing up late. People showing up unprepared. People showing up who don’t need to be there. People not showing up at all.
An agenda not sent in sufficient time to allow people to prepare properly. Then, not even sticking to the agenda. Or lacking a clear commitment to time frames set for the agenda.
Looking at phones rather than being present.
People who leave midway because they have ‘more important matters’. (They tend to be serial offenders.)
Managers who turn up late while everyone sits around waiting, like their time is far more important.
Lack of clarity as to the purpose of the meeting.
Never having time OUTSIDE meetings to get anything done. Senior managers seem triple booked from nine until five, and they are exhausting themselves after hours trying to ‘work’.
A meeting that gets hijacked by two people who spend the group’s shared meeting time discussing something that should be discussed at another time between just the two of them.
Lack of clear action items. Like, what are we supposed to do next?
This list is by no means exhaustive. As more people saw the post, the more (and angrier) responses I got back.
It’s time to stop the meeting madness.
What I’m about to show you is that you don’t have to suffer like this. There is a solution to all of this meeting mess, and it’s a lot simpler than you might think.
We need meetings. We need them at work because when they work, they are valuable. Clear actions get set, decisions are made and the whole business moves forward.
But what we don’t need is for meetings to waste our time, money and resources.
What we need is a 25-minute meeting. A meeting that is short, sharp and productive. A meeting that gets the job done efficiently. A meeting that gets more value in way less time.
Stop for a minute and look at your calendar. How many of your meetings are 60 minutes or more? By choosing to do 25-minute meetings, you will free up a large chunk of time to get your day-to-day work done. Or even just have space to think!
Too often I have heard people say that they spend all day in meetings, so their evenings (when they should be with their families, friends or enjoying leisure time) are spent doing their actual work or catching up on emails they have missed.
With 25-minute meetings, your team members and colleagues will thank you for the time you gift them back. Your organisation will thank you for the money you will save them — around $5775 per week, if you do the following maths.
According to Glass Door, a company that provides average salary information across a range of roles and industries, the average salary of a manager is $110 000.
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