Hi working professionals! Do you ever get into situations where your client or boss tends to be very enthusiastic and run overtime for a meeting? I know from my experiences this happens a lot, especially when the clients are also friends or people you have known for a long time.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have strong relationships with the people who ensure you have a living. However, there is a thin line between strong relationships and giving away too much of your time. After all, if you spend all day chatting to the person when (and how) are you actually going to get your work done?
I run meetings of all sizes, from one on one to board meetings with 15+ people, even to attending meetings that will just go on and on (usually with the Indonesian government). Here are my tips to make sure your meetings end on time.
Tips to End Meetings On Time
State clearly at the beginning of the meeting how much time you have, so everyone knows the expectations. “I have about half an hour (or an hour) for this meeting, and I have something scheduled after which really needs me. I hope that’s alright.”
Have an agenda and state the agenda in the beginning, about the same time you state how much time you have. It’s always good to be clear about the goals of the meeting. “The goal of this meeting is to decide on our marketing focus for this month.”
In the course of the meeting, if you see that the problem is much deeper than as first diagnosed, and you will need more than the agreed time, then I would advise to still end the meeting on time while setting up another time soon to carry on the discussion. Don’t make a habit of letting calls or meetings run longer than agreed, or else it will continue to be that way.
Tricks Which Always Work
In places like Indonesia where it’s considered extremely rude to interrupt someone older, then it can be difficult to safeguard your time. Here is a little trick that Oky and I used, and I later taught it to Cung. Use your spouse as a cover-up. Oky eventually learned to tell his client that he had to pick me up-although that might not always have been the case. Cung would say, “I have to make sure Airin is OK in the house by herself.”
I would say something like “I have to start preparing food, or I have to get ready for a date night with Cung.” It works like a charm all the time. This little trick is meant to let other people know that you have other responsibilities in life and that you must prioritize or get to them.
If you’re not married, you can always use your parents’ as a cover-up. “I have to go call my father.” “I have to go help my mother run an errand.”
The last part is what might be the hardest: you have to stick to it. You must leave at the time you said you needed to go. Follow through. That way people will appreciate your time-and their own time! In the next meetings, they will adhere to that habit. Successful people treat each other’s time with respect.
There are my tips and tricks, I hope your meetings can be managed effectively and productively!