5 Ways to Keep Virtual Meetings from Running Long

Posted By
Adam Grant

If you have been in business long enough, you’ve come to learn that it’s always a real possibility the meeting you are in will run way longer than anticipated. It’s natural to be unhappy about this, as longer-than-planned meetings can truly sap the energy of participants and negatively hinder productivity.

Sadly, this reality is not exclusively for those regularly taking part in in-person meetings. Nowadays, virtual meetings are also extending well beyond their expiration date. As much as it is easy to fall in love with online meeting platforms and the opportunity to have video calls with your team and clients, you likely don’t want them to drag on.

Here are five ways you can help keep virtual meetings from running long:

Have a Video Conference Agenda (and stick to it!)

When sending out an online meeting invite to co-workers, do not just outline the time slot in which it’ll take place. Let’s be real, just because that’s noted, doesn’t mean people will stick to it.

One way to help ensure that they do, is by also including a firm agenda within the meeting invite – or separately – outlining what specifically will be touched on during the video call and for how long.

Creating an agenda of this sort will allow people to understand what will be discussed during the virtual meeting and focus on those topics specifically. Additionally, this will allow the meeting host to run a tighter ship, knowing that everyone on the call is already aware of its direction.

Don’t Get Off Topic

Further to the point above, encourage virtual meeting participants to not deviate from the topics listed in the agenda. Even if a matter is kind of, sort of, relevant to what’s being discussed, encourage these types of conversations to be held offline first. If the parties of this chat believe the topic should be held at a future live video chat online, see that they let you know ahead of the next call.

When meeting participants start deviating from business entirely and have some casual banter, allow for it, but see that it does not interfere with a meeting’s scheduled timing.

Arrive On Time

Some meetings are unable to begin until all, or very specific parties, have logged on for the video call. As such, it’s imperative to stress that everyone be on time for each meeting. 

Remind staff how showing up on time lets all other staff meeting participants know their time is being valued. Consequently, being late shows the opposite, and has the possibility of derailing tight schedules held by others.

Understand How Busy the Team Is

While meetings are vital in terms of getting everyone on the same page regarding projects, responsibilities and other company happenings, not every subject needs to be dragged out.

For instance, if certain matters briefly need to be touched upon to get “yays” or “nays” from staff – or a deadline needs to be reiterated – say what needs to be said, then move on. There’s no need to add extra padding to these conversations.

The sooner staff know what you need from them, the sooner they can get off the virtual meeting and get to it.

Do Not Force a Decision

Sometimes, meetings will spiral out of control from a timing perspective the moment a team is forced to make a decision on the spot. While some people can make snap judgments, others prefer more time to discuss and deliberate a matter.

For larger business decisions that do not need to be rushed to during a staff meeting, ask that team members get offline and form their opinion before a group decision is ultimately formed during a future gathering.

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Adam Grant

Adam has been a professional, published writer for more than 20 years. He has experience writing about technology, business, music, news, as well as many topics in-between. When not banging away at the keyboard, Adam spins vinyl, obsesses over sports, and takes his dog on giant walks.