(Updated: Now with Nicole Steinbok ignite video at bottom)

No one likes meetings and for good reason. In most meetings, most of the time, most people think most of what goes on is a waste of time. So what if you took out all of the stupid, wasteful stuff and left only the useful parts?

Enter the 22 minute meeting. This is an idea from Nicole Steinbok, and she presented it at Seattle Ignite 9. When I saw her speak at Microsoft a few months ago, she gave one of the best short talks I’ve ever seen and I told her to do it at Ignite. Glad I did.

Here’s the poster from her talk (which you can use):

I couldn’t find a write up of the core points, so here’s my take on her ideas from what I remember from her talk. All credit should go her way:

  1. Schedule a 22 minute meeting - Who decided meetings should be 30 or 60 minutes? What data is this based on? None. 30 and 60 minute meetings leave no time to get between meetings, and assumes, on average, people need an hour to sort things out. Certainly not all meetings can be run in 22 minutes, but many can, so we’d all be better off if the default time were small, not large.
  2. Have a goal based agenda – Having an agenda at all would be a plus in most meetings. Writing it on the whiteboard, earns double pluses, since then everyone has a constant reminder of what the meeting is supposed to achieve.
  3. Send required readings 3 days beforehand – The burden is on the organizer to make this small enough that people actually do it. Never ever allow a meeting to be “lets all read the documents together and penalize anyone diligent enough to do their homework”. (note: I think 24 hours is plenty).
  4. Start on time – How often does this happen? Almost never. Part of the problem is Outlook and all schedule programs don’t have space between meetings. By 2pm there is a day’s worth of meeting time debt. 22 minutes ensures plenty of travel/buffer time between meetings.
  5. Stand up – Reminds everyone the goal isn’t to elaborate or be supplemental (See Scrum standing meetings). Make your point, make your requests, or keep quiet. If there is a disagreement, say so, but handle resolving it outside of the meeting.
  6. No laptops, but presenters and note takers. If you’re promised 22 minutes, and it’s all good stuff, you don’t need a secondary thing to be doing while you pretend to be listening. One person taking notes, and one person presenting if necessary.
  7. No phones, no exceptions – see above.
  8. Focus! Note off topic comments. If you have an agenda, someone has to police it and this burden is on whoever called the meeting. Tangents are ok, provided they are short. The meeting organizer has to table tangents and arguments that go too far from the agenda.
  9. Send notes ASAP – With 22 minutes, there should be time, post meeting, for the organizer to send out notes and action items before the next meeting begins.

What do you think?

If you like the idea, help it spread. Nicole started a facebook group and a poster you can download (PDF). Pass it on.

UPDATED: Here’s Nicole’s excellent Ignite talk.

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106 Responses to “The 22 minute meeting (updated)”

  1. Monica Ricci |

    Scott Berkun said:
    ‘Anyplace where people are *rewarded* for taking up more time, and slowing things down is more messed up than any idea for running meetings could solve.”

    You mean like pretty much every government job in existence? Oh and couple that with automatic raises based on NOTHING (certainly not performance) it seems like a pretty swell place to work! LOL…

    Reply
  2. mike |

    I think productive meetings can be even quicker than 22 minutes. But I agree that there shouldn’t be any distractions; ie cell phones etc.

    Standing up? lol i’ll have to try that one…

    Reply
  3. Michelle |

    I saw Nicole’s Ignite clip on YouTube. She is a great presenter.

    Reply
  4. Michelle Mazur |

    If I could get my company to have a 22 minute meeting, I would love it. Heck, if I could get them to have a meeting agenda I would love it. Often times in meetings, I sit there and calculate how much this meeting is costs the company. It’s a stagger number most of the time with very little ROI.

    Reply
  5. Chi Huynh |

    Really great post!

    I never like long meetings or meetings for that matter. I can see us implementing a few of the rules.

    Reply
  1. [...] No one likes meetings. But what if you took out all the waste and left only the useful parts? Scott Berkun summarizes Nicole Steinbok’s 22 minute meeting concept. [...]

  2. [...] The 22 minute meeting (Scott Berkun) [...]

  3. [...] Nicole Steinbok (@nicolesteinbok) came up with the 22 minutes meeting concept, presented at Seattle Ignite 9, according to Scott Berkum, got the first touch with it on his blog. [...]

  4. [...] been a lot of attention lately to the idea of a 22-minute meeting. Scott Berkun blogged about it here, while the original source of the meme seems to belong to Nicole Steinbok who has a page dedicated [...]

  5. [...] The 22 minute meeting [ScottBerkun.com] Tagged:meetingsproductivitytime management [...]

  6. [...] meetings from spiraling into three-hour marathons? Share your hard-earned tactics in the comments. The 22 minute meeting [...]

  7. [...] meetings from spiraling into three-hour marathons? Share your hard-earned tactics in the comments. The 22 minute meeting [...]

  8. [...] in einem lesenswerten Beitrag einen Vortrag von Nicole Steinbok zu effizienten Besprechungen: The 22 minute meeting. Laut Steinbok gibt es f

  9. [...] The 22-minute meetingThis one is work-related, not necessarily family-related, but it struck a chord with me. Oh the things I could accomplish in 22 minutes… [...]

  10. [...] take a leak, get another beer and are back in time for the next one… The same idea makes the 22-minute meeting so intriguing. Knowing time helps to focus [...]

  11. [...] van hun werktijd aan besteden. Hm. Dat lijken mij genoeg redenen om het anders aan te pakken. Op

  12. [...] his most recent Confessions of a Public Speaker. In his latest blog post, he propounds a method for focusing meetings on the work at hand by preparing properly, starting on time, and staying for only 22 minutes, preferably while [...]

  13. [...] you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on HR topics.Says the always insightful Scott Berkun:

  14. [...] The 22 minute meeting " Scott Berkun – [...]

  15. [...] Today I came across this great Ignite talk by Nicole Steinbok on the 22 Minute Meeting (via Scott Berkun). [...]

  16. [...] I am no fan of meetings. Rarely are meetings at all productive or interesting. I don’t often have much to say in them either because I don’t see the point of belaboring the point just to make a point that is actually rather… pointless. So when I get in a room and the air gets sucked out or heated up I start to get sleepy. I fight it as hard as I can but then the hum of the projector and the drone of a speakers voice puts me into a continual head bob neck jerk rhythm. The worst is when I shut one eye to give it some rest and keep the other eye open. The yawning becomes chronic, repetitive and will not stop. I think that when I host my next meeting I will model it after the 22 minute meeting. [...]

  17. [...] Scott Berkun has a solution he learned from Nicole Steinbok- no food, no chairs, strict time limits. The only problem I see with his approach is he allows too much time. [...]

  18. [...] “?????”???????????????????????????????????????????????? [...]

  19. [...] 0 A good back-to-basics article by Scott Berkun on how to do efficient meetings, based on the original idea by Nicole [...]

  20. [...] van hun werktijd aan besteden. Hm. Dat lijken mij genoeg redenen om het anders aan te pakken. Op  The 22 minute meeting « Scott Berkun vond ik een prachtig voorbeeld van hoe het ook kan, met tips voor de aanpak. Wie heeft ooit bedacht [...]

  21. [...] at the details of them though, what is entailed in the meeting could have been taken care with a well structured 22 minute meeting.  If you give people and hour, generally they will drag it out to take an hour.  Usually by [...]

  22. [...] “?????”???????????????????????????????????????????????? [...]

  23. [...] daha verimli hale getirmeyle ilgili Scott Berkun’un 22 minute meeting isimli yaz?s?nda da benim top 5′imden maddeler gördü?ümde verimsiz toplant?lar?n her [...]

  24. [...] Evernote : http://www.evernote.com/ AgileZen : http://agilezen.com/ 22 minute meeting : http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2010/the-22-minute-meeting/ Tweet This entry was posted in Agile. Bookmark the permalink. ← Le Sunset Graph comme [...]

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  27. [...] points for another meeting. I’m actually even more impressed with the concept of the 22-minute meeting , but we’ll allow for discrepancies if the agenda requires an expanded time [...]

  28. [...] tradition and the default setting in organiser software? Why not schedule a meeting to only take 22 minutes? It's the same with presentations. Why do they have to take an hour? Why not 15 minutes including [...]

  29. [...] schreef een mooie blog over wat de bedenkster van deze poster vertelt in onderstaand [...]

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