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Business tips, Business, productivity

How to cut back your meeting times by fifty percent

As a business professional, the thought of cutting back your meeting times by fifty percent can sound as mythical and air fairy as a glitter-covered unicorn, showing up on your door step.

I don’t want to generalize all coffee and lunch meeting requests, but at the risk of generalizing…

Chances are, most meeting requests are thinly veiled by people who are seeking an opportunity to:

  • “Pick your brain”
  • Pitch a product/service to you
  • Get advice on growing the other person's business
  • Or worse, a review of your LinkedIn connections, printed out on an excel sheet, asking you to spill the beans on whether of not  they could be a potential client for them...Yes, it's happened to me before!

Ain't nobody got time for that, right?

Now, if a meeting request is in fact, an official business meeting to learn if your product of service is a good fit for them, most people will be pretty direct about “setting up a consultation appointment”.

In any of these cases, you will want to have a script sequence that filters the meeting request. The script sequence will vary depending on the type of meeting. 

Regardless of the meeting request, all first time meetings should be no more than 12-15 minutes and done via phone or video conference. Why? 

Most meetings are a huge waste of time. And, if you are not diligent about honoring your time, other people will (by default) dictate how you spend your time.

I first began using a version of what I know call " The 12 Minute Meeting", as early as 2011. This system as certainly evolved, over the years. In fact, I would love to one day call this system the "5 Minute Meeting".

Until then, I wanted to share with you some helpful tips on how you can dramatically cut your meeting times in half. 

Step one: Get a calendar scheduler account. You can send people a link to schedule their appointment with you.

One of the biggest time sucks with meetings is actually setting up the meeting in the first place. I used to feel so over-whelmed by all the back-and-forth emails.

I thought if I picked up the phone, it would stop the ping-pong of emails and hook a sister up with a few precious minutes.

But then, I had to then remember to put the appointment in my calendar. Of course, this is easier when you are sitting in front of your computer.

Now, if you are on the road and using your phone a lot, switch tasking can be the biggest culprit of not getting the appointment on your calendar.

What saved the day? An on-line appointment scheduler did and it can rock your world, too.

Here are a few examples to check out 

Step Two: Setting up your meeting software

Do you like spend more time in your car, going back and forth to meetings? I didn't think so. I know there are some wonderful benefits of connecting face to face. And, by all means, when the time is appropriate, meet up in person.

However, most meetings or "getting to know you better" chats can be done, via phone or video conference. Here are a few tools I have used to cut down on my driving time:

Step Three: Script sequence

Let’s assume you get an email request to “meet up for coffee”. A request like this is pretty vague. Since you are now the keeper of your time, you will want to find out for sure why the other person wants to connect.

First things first…find out why people want to meet with you.

For that, I’m going to let Marie Forleo explain this…after you watch her video, be sure to come back to this article…it’s going to be juicy.

Second, Let’s say you mutually want to connect with the person who’s reaching out for a meeting. Cool…here’s how you could reply to their email:

Hi _____,

It’s great to hear from you.

I am eager to learn more about your current areas of focus and how I can support you. To set up a time for our “getting to know you” call, please visit my calendar (make sure you link your calendar) to find a time that convenient for you. 

You’ll notice my meeting times are set up in 15 minute increments…I have incorporated this shortened meeting method because I value your time. 

Once you confirm a meeting time, I will send you a confirmation email with a short agenda of what to expect during our call.

Again, I look forward to connecting during our brief, yet action packed call.

Take Care,

(Your Name)

Now, what will happen when the person who’s reaching out, actually books the appointment, via your online appointment scheduler?

In most calendar tools, you will have the freedom to send them an automated confirmation and automated reminders.

As a bonus assignment (i.e. an activity you’ll do on your own, outside of the space of this article), you will want to come up with the script for your automated confirmation and reminder emails.

Some things to consider:

Most calendars are coded to already have to date and time of the meeting. You will, however, have to fill in the gaps, such as:

  • The number or access code to your Skype, Zoom, Conference call line or phone number
  • Who’s calling who, if you are using a phone
  • What will the meeting entail (what’s the agenda)
  • What is your meeting cancellation policy (I say something like, “If you need to cancel or reschedule, I kindly request a 24 hour notice.”
  • Anything else that may be relevant to your meeting (this will vary by industry, but if you need some ideas specific your your situation…you should connect)

Step Four: Having your meeting

Once you have connected with all parties for your meeting, it’s important to set the stage for how you expect the meeting to go down.

After brief pleasantries, I say something like, “Hey, before we get started, I wanted to confirm I’ve budgeted 15 minutes (or what ever length of time you have predetermined) for our call today. Does that still work out in your time frame?”

If they agree, you could say something like, (and this is more of a “getting to know you/collaboration call), you could say something like:

“I am looking forward to getting to know more about your current areas of focus and I’m excited to share a little bit more about what I’ve got going on. My first question for you is…”

Now, I can’t going into nitty-gritty details about how you continue the convo. Part of the scripting process is you doing your own exploration of what feels authentic to you. News flash: you will actually have to have conversations with people to know if you truly connect with your words. 

So what happens if they other person is “Chatty Cathy” and you were not able to get your time to share before your meeting time is wrapping? 

Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. Use your instinct to determine if you want to continue the conversation. If you do, set up another time to reconnect. 

If the conversation leads to the two of you having a deeper discussion around working together, let them know your next step in your on-boarding process. 

Don’t have an on-boarding process?

Here’s another bonus assignment: Visualize your ideal roadmap to how you might bring on a client or referral partner. Then, write this down…step by step. This varies by industry and company. 

If there is anything the two of you have to follow-up on, let them know when you plan to follow-up with them with what you said you were going to do. Make sure this is within 24-48 hours.

What ever you do…

  • Be of service, FIRST!!!
  • Be cool
  • Don’t be in a rush to get EVERYTHING in…hopefully, this won’t be the last time to connect with this person. You will have plenty of time to share and explore as you build your relationship.

I hope this will help you in your quest to dramatically cut back your meeting times.

That's all I have for you now.

Until next time...

Take Care,

About Erica Castner:

Focused on the art of productivity and partnerships, Erica Castner is a business and breakthrough coach with a successful track record of helping thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs turn ideas and goals into results and accomplishments.

She offers workshops, as well as one-on-one coaching services, that are designed to help business professionals influence a group of ideal clients and ultimately enhance productivity, presence and partnerships.