Tired of being in meetings that drag on and on? It may sound unusual, but the answer is a shot clock, much like the ones used in professional basketball. Here’s how it works: Before a meeting, explain that you want to devote a certain amount of time to each agenda item. If you’re leading an annual budget review and have 40 investment proposals on the table, say, “We’re going to spend exactly 10 minutes discussing each topic. Speakers will have three minutes to present, followed by seven minutes of discussion.” If different topics warrant different amounts of time, try to determine that in advance. Then set up the shot clock — a smartphone timer works nicely. It should buzz (loudly) when time runs out and keep buzzing until people stop talking. While it’s impersonal, even obnoxious, it’s highly effective and fair, helping each person and issue get the time and attention they need.
Adapted from “Meetings Need a Shot Clock,” by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene