Four Creative Ways to Keep Business Meetings Short

Do your office meetings seem like mini-prison-sentences? Here are tips from professionals that might help spring you and your colleagues from meeting purgatory.

 

Illustration by Robert Pizzo

BLACKBERRY BLACKOUT Maggie Timoney, senior VP of the Human Resources Department at Heineken USA, advises instating the “Blackberry bin.” Everyone’s smartphone must be deposited at the start of every meeting.

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HORSING AROUND Timoney also recommends placing a toy horse on the conference table. “When we’re talking about something for way too long, someone will ‘beat the dead horse’ and knock it over,” says Timoney—a signal to move forward.

FREEZE ‘EM OUT Michele Calabrese, senior conference planning manager at the Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center, has been asked to keep “the conference room five degrees below our normal temperature.” Cooler temperatures serve to keep people alert—and uncomfortable enough that they’re motivated to not waste time. Calabrese has even been asked to shut off the heat entirely—and she has.

MAKE ‘EM SING At Douglas Trokie’s White Plains law firm, Trokie Landau LLP, anyone who is late to a meeting has to sing the first stanza of his or her favorite song. “I have to tell you that it’s a huge deterrent.”    
 

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