Assistants standing in front of a calendar and a clock. One is moving events on the calendar the other is on a laptop. They are demonstrating effective time management skills.

How to Help Your Boss Stay on Schedule: Executive Assistants’ Guide

Proven Tactics for Minimizing Meeting Time Overruns and Maximizing Productivity

Wrangling Your Executive’s Meeting Times

Have you struggled with keeping your executive on track during meetings? It’s a common challenge faced by many executive assistants. Recently, a question in our community prompted us to dive deeper into this issue:

Any tips on how to wrangle your executive from running over their meeting times? The executive I support repeatedly doesn’t keep to time on their scheduled meetings and then it has a knock-on effect on the rest of their meetings.

Posted by an Official in our community

Understanding the Problem: Causes of Meeting Time Overruns

Before we delve into solutions, let’s explore the underlying causes of meeting time overruns. By identifying these factors, we can develop effective strategies to address them:

  • Lack of clear objectives and success criteria
  • Absence of a standardized meeting protocol
  • Insufficient buffer time between meetings
  • Time blindness
  • Ineffective communication methods
  • Need for boss’s self-awareness and role modeling
  • Unawareness of the cost and consequences of meeting overruns

Setting the Foundation for Productive Meetings

To overcome meeting time overruns, establishing a strong foundation is crucial. Let’s explore essential strategies for effective meeting management:

  • Setting Clear Objectives: Define meeting objectives and collaborate with your boss to establish success criteria.
  • Implementing a Meeting Protocol: Develop a standardized meeting structure, well-structured agendas, and timely submission of materials.
  • Allocating Buffer Time: Maximize productivity by scheduling buffer time between meetings and utilizing it effectively.

Effective Communication Methods

Communication plays a vital role in ensuring meeting efficiency. Consider these strategies to improve communication with your executive:

  • Leveraging Instant Messaging Apps: Utilize text or instant messaging for quick updates and clarifications.
  • Expressing the Value of Time: Encourage your boss’s self-reflection on their role as a time model and emphasize the importance of respecting everyone’s time.

Demonstrating the Cost of Meeting Overruns

Quantifying the cost and consequences of meeting overruns can be a powerful tool to drive change. Explore these methods to showcase the impact:

  • Calculating ROI of Meetings: Utilize the HBR Meeting Cost Calculator to estimate financial costs and emphasize the value of time.
  • Get to the Heart of the Matter: Engage in open conversations with your boss to understand their perspective on why meetings run late and challenge them to see the impact it makes on their reputation and how it imposes on others productivity.

Practical Strategies for Ending Meetings Efficiently

Ending meetings promptly is a crucial step towards optimizing your executive’s schedule. Consider these practical strategies:

  • Providing Exit Scripts: Offer scripted statements to help your boss conclude meetings on time. HEre are some examples for you:
    • Based on our agenda, we’ve covered all the important topics. Let’s wrap up and move on to our next steps.
    • I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, so let’s conclude the meeting now. If there are any additional points, we can address them via email or schedule a follow-up discussion.
    • As we approach the end of our scheduled meeting time, I’d like to give everyone a chance for any final thoughts or questions before we adjourn.
    • I have another meeting coming up, so let’s bring this one to a close. If there are any outstanding matters, please let me know, and we can address them separately.
    • Our allotted time is almost up, so I’ll summarize the key takeaways and action items. If anyone has anything else to add, please share it now. Otherwise, let’s end the meeting on a positive note.
    • We’re almost out of time, so let’s finish up.
    • I have another commitment soon, so let’s conclude.
    • To respect everyone’s schedules, we’ll end the meeting here.
    • I appreciate the ongoing discussion, but we need to wrap up the meeting now. Let’s continue this conversation offline.
    • I understand there are still important points to discuss, but in the interest of time, let’s conclude the meeting. We can schedule a follow-up if needed.
    • It’s great to see such engagement, but we’re running over time. Let’s table the remaining discussion points for our next meeting.
    • I apologize for interrupting, but we’re exceeding our allotted time. If there are any final remarks, please share them briefly.
    • I understand this is an important topic, but we’re out of time. If there are any urgent matters, please follow up via email or schedule a separate meeting.
  • Introduce tools like Should It Be a Meeting to evaluate meeting necessity and leverage asynchronous communication for non-urgent matters.

By implementing these strategies, executive assistants can effectively manage meeting times and boost productivity. Let us know how you keep your executive on time in the comments below.

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