Managing time in meetings

22nd February 2012

The press this morning was full of news about Adele flipping the finger at the Brit Awards. Her acceptance speech was cut short as they were running out of time.

This made me think of all the times I have had to manage speakers who lose track of time whilst presenting in meetings. Whilst our name is Meeting Magic, our ability to shift the space and time continuum is limited 🙂 We sometimes have to make interventions to prevent meetings veering off track because of presentations running over time.

Handling presenters can be tricky, and the key to getting this right is always in the preparation. It’s about getting really clear, with the presenter, about how long they will present for, and agreeing how time keeping will be managed. It is much better to discuss this together, in advance, rather than having to drag them off stage!

I think that managing time is about our mindset, as well as the preparation we do to make sure we have realistic timings on a meeting agenda. When we find ourselves up against time, how do we think about it? For example…

If you have 15 minutes to complete a task, do you think ‘Oh my goodness, I only have 15 minutes, I can’t get anything really done in that time!’ or do you think ‘I need to harness the group to work with me to get everything done in 15 minutes’?

I also think it useful to pay attention to how time FEELS in different activities. I know that, for me, time flies when I am doing creative work, but it feels slow when I am paying attention to detailed figures. This also applies in group working, two activites can take the same length of time but they feel very different to the group.

So, some food for thought on managing time… until we create the Meeting Magic time machine for meetings!