Here’s How to Avoid Another Insufferable Meeting

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This post originally appeared on Uncubed.

Feel like you spend half of your day in meetings? You’re pretty close. The average working American spends 40% of their workday at confabs, convos, and coffee klatches.

There are good reasons for meetings: It’s how many companies encourage culture, find their focus, and make sure every employee’s goals match up with the company’s. But there’s no good reason for them to be long, tedious, and so frequent.

Before you put that meeting on your calendar, Harvard Business Review advises you to ask, “If I was sick on the day of this meeting, would it need to be rescheduled?” If you’re not sure how to answer that question, they’ve got a handy flow chart. Use it.

When you have to go to a meeting, make it short. The length of a TED Talk or shorter is ideal, writes Fast Company. Our attention span only lasts 10-18 minutes. Maybe you should set a timer.

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You can figure out exactly how much time you spend at meetings by connecting your Google calendar to Jell’s Meeting Calculator. Try using that data to implement shorter, less frequent meetings. Jell’s app helps users decipher whether they even need a meeting by comparing and tracking goals and accomplishments.

One way to keep a meeting short is to make everyone stand. The stand-up meeting isn’t just for developers anymore. Sitting is slowly killing us all, after all. Bonus: host these meetings around a few desks and they won’t require you to book a conference room.

Walking is the new standing, right? A recent study out of the University of Miami found that walking meetings could help office workers live longer, healthier lives. Just think, you could still be going to meetings in your nineties.

“There are limited opportunities for physical activity at work,” said the study’s principal investigator Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health sciences. “This walking meeting pilot study provides early evidence that white-collar workers find it feasible and acceptable to convert traditional seated meetings into walking meetings.” See the The West Wing for inspiration.

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or walking, these meetings aren’t going to plan themselves. This aspect of the meeting process can be improved too. Genee, which was just purchased by Microsoft, acts a virtual assistant that interprets those emails where you’re trying to figure out when everyone can meet and just creates a meeting for you. CC Genee.

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“Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one,” wrote Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Outlook and Office 365, in a blog post when Microsoft made the purchase. Expect to see this rolled out into Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud applications suite.

Nearly 40% of us telecommute at least some of the time, but unfortunately, this doesn’t get you out of meetings. If you are attending meetings via that big screen in your office, you probably look terrible, and you know it.

72% of people feel self-conscious about their image on video, according to a recent study. Your pajamas aren’t helping. Quartz identifies some more ways to look your best, including “look at the camera, not yourself.”

“Good eye contact enables participants to be more engaged and get into the flow of a meeting.”

Here’s hoping you get in the flow and get out of that meeting quick.

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