Written by Audrey Watters
Earlier this week, VC Mark Suster blogged the decree “Say No to Meetings.” Suster argues that time is an entrepreneur‘s scarcest resource. And with all the pressures – from current and potential employees, vendors, and investors, Suster suggests that entrepreneurs learn to decline holding meetings.
This may seem somewhat contradictory to the advice that entrepreneurs always stay in touch with advisors and investors. Suster clarifies, “I’m not saying “no more meetings” but rather “no, to more meetings.”
As much as saying “no” to meetings is a rallying cry we could all get behind, some meetings are simply unavoidable. In order to make meeting less invasive to your busy schedule, Suster makes three suggestions:
1. Ensure that meetings are short. Suster points to this video where Nicole Steinbok argues for the 22-minute meeting.
2. Meet in your office. Not only does etiquette make it difficult to get up and leave a cafe promptly after 30 minutes, meeting outside the office adds commute time to the duration.
3. Schedule something immediately afterwards. This puts a “hard stop” on the meeting.
Some of the commenters to Suster’s post offered their own suggestions:
Mark Solon recommended setting aside 1-3 hours per week in order to schedule a series of 20 minute meetings. Another commenter pointed to informal events, such as “Beer and Blog” in Portland and “Hops and Chops” in Seattle, as ways to hold “office hours,” of sorts, where folks can drop by. Others echoed the call for meetings by phone or check ins via email as alternates to face-to-face meetings.
Of course, meetings aren’t necessarily bad. They just tend far too often to be mismanaged and/or unnecessary.
There are at least two crucial things to do in order to counter that.
1. Be prepared. Send everyone the agenda ahead of time.
2. Participate. Make sure everyone who has something to say gets a chance to say it. The corollary of this is that if your input isn’t necessary, you shouldn’t attend the meeting.
One of the best insights on meetings remains Paul Graham‘s “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.” Whether you are a maker or a manager or both, it’s important to recognize the disruption that meetings cause your schedule.