Efficient Meetings: Exploring the Five-Minute Rule

The recent drive toward meeting-efficiency has spawned the tendency for many executives to follow a strict agenda in the boardroom with little room for digression. Even in instances where you are required to update your team members on an important work-related matter, there is always the possibility that your presentation may be cut short in favor of other issues on the itinerary. While the new propensity toward “lean meetings” has certainly had a positive impact on the overall productivity of many companies, less time in the conference room also requires an extraordinarily succinct approach to addressing even the most crucial topics.

Leadership coach, syndicated columnist, speaker, advisor, and founder of “Leadership from the Core”, Marcel Schwantes provides some valuable insight into these transitory meetings and their possible effects.

Five Minutes Meetings - Professionals at conference table

Keeping it under five minutes

Swhwantes quotes a recent article published in The Wall Street Journal, supporting the popularity of what some companies refer to as “agile meetings”. In fact, as he states, “The old ritual of booking conference rooms and clogging calendars with 30 or 60-minutes of drudgery is being replaced by five-minute huddles where teams cut to the chase and decisions on the spot”. Furthermore, business leaders often do not hesitate to politely interrupt employees who they consider to be “rambling” for just a bit too long. Schwantes also cites the Connecticut-based digital marketing firm, Scrum50, which begins and ends its meetings within five minutes of the workday start-time. Consequently, employees who arrive five minutes late to work will miss the meeting altogether.

How to stay concise

Those working for companies who have adopted this practice may feel as though their speaking time is radically confined, and it’s fair to say that it is. Professionals must often “state their case” in under 30 seconds, which may seem like an impossible feat.

If you’ve been notified of a scheduled meeting and you have a specific set of information to share, a reliable tactic is to be prepared with your own brief set of notes, summarizing your facts into language that can be presented in as little time as possible. There is no doubt that such acute time constraints can add to an already pressurized situation, and sharing facts in an outlined format will naturally reduce your time “in the spotlight”. On the other hand, by stripping away the extraneous verbiage, you may find a stronger sense of attention drawn to your central theme.


Clearly, there are valid lines of reason both for and against the five-minute meeting approach; and we’d like to hear how other professionals weigh in on the practice.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  4 Do’s and Don’ts for Presentation Success


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