Can We Have a Meeting?
Alex is 100% correct: every call needs a clearly defined purpose or agenda, and no call ought to last longer than thirty minutes.
As a freelancer, I spend a tremendous amount of my workday on conference calls or video chats. They are an essential part of my business development and client services workflow and the primary way that I connect with people professionally.
If I don’t keep my call time in check using this simple set of criteria, I’ll quickly find that my calendar leaves no time for productive work. That’s why I use pre-defined Calendly links to schedule every call in thirty-minute blocks.
The one exception that I’ll take with the above flowchart is with, “could it be an email?” Yes — email is typically more efficient than a meeting. But at NationBuilder, I learned from my mentor Jim Gilliam that a barrage of “quick questions” can be far more detrimental to my productivity than a 30-minute conversation. Jim loathed “quick questions” and for a good reason.
So when I start to get a flurry of emails from a client, my immediate response is to schedule a 30-minute “check-in” call. Ahead of the scheduled phone call, I ask them to make a list of their questions, and we use that pre-defined time to crank through them one at a time. I also record the call (using Zoom) so that they can refer back to my answers later.
For me, this has proven to be an effective strategy. Moreover, the meetings I do choose to participate in are more focused, pleasant, and productive.