The Ideal Meeting Length is Shorter Than You Think

Turns out the ideal meeting length is the same as most people’s attention spans.
Matthew Ritchie
June 17, 2022
6 minute read

(This post was originally published on Want to try our new app? Download Bloks for free. )

Most people are on autopilot when it comes to organizing their calendars and scheduling meetings.

They click on the grid in their calendar to create an event or propose a meeting time, and it automatically defaults to an hour-long block.

If they need to edit its duration, the next suggested meeting length is usually 30 minutes (the recommended event duration, according to Google).

Google is a smart company. These two options are presented as the ideal length of meetings partly (we assume) because they’re the ones most selected by users and partly (again, we assume) because they’re easy to stack on top of one another when scheduling your workweek.

With the average person’s workday being eight hours long, they have eight to 16 blocks of time to work with (give or take) when organizing each day.

But what if the ideal length for team meetings (or any meeting, really) wasn’t an hour or even 30 minutes long?

The Ideal Meeting Length is Shorter Than You Think

Five minutes shorter, to be exact. 

In her book The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact, productivity expert Donna McGeorge argues that the ideal meeting length isn’t 30 minutes but—yep, you guessed it—25 minutes.

Her reasoning behind the suggested meeting length was inspired by a popular productivity hack that first gained ground in the tech community.

Organizing Time with Tomatoes

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created by Italian consultant Francesco Cirillo when he was a university student in the late-1980s. 

To help him focus on his school work, Cirillo would set a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to 25 minutes, rewarding himself with a five-minute break at the end before starting the process over again (and taking a much longer break later on).

Since then, the productivity hack has grown in popularity, especially among programmers and productivity nerds.

So, What Does This Have to Do with Meeting Lengths? 

According to Fast Company, McGeorge’s reasoning for readjusting the average meeting length is supported by Parkinson’s Law and the Ringelman Effect, which state that “work expands to fill the time allotted” and individual productivity decreases “as the size of the group increases,” respectively.

Basically, the longer the meeting and the more team members added to it, the less productive everyone will be.

Related: How to Run an Effective Meeting, According to 5 of the World's Top CEOs

To make the most of your time together, McGeorge says all effective meetings require “the three Ps”: purpose, people, and process.

“Clarity plus scarcity makes for urgency,” says McGeorge. “If we’re clear about what we want to do, we know what our purpose is, and we’re scarce around the amount of time—25 minutes—we create a sense of urgency for getting things done.”

But, like any rule, there are exceptions.

Types of Meetings and Suggested Lengths, According to Microsoft and Slack

Although having 25-30 minute meetings could be more efficient, Paul Axtell—a consultant speaking with Microsoft Workplace Insights—argues that it can be limiting, depending on what’s being discussed in your meeting.

“If the purpose of your meeting is to talk through something, you need to give people enough time to voice their opinions, build on one another’s ideas, and reach a conclusion,” he says.

Slack, for instance, suggests allotting these amounts of time for each type of meeting:

15 to 30 minutes = team meeting

30 to 60 minutes = one-on-one meeting

40 to 60 minutes = brainstorming meeting

60 to 90 minutes = strategy meeting

Click here to see the full list of team meeting types and lengths.

Food For Thought

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to making meetings more efficient (although having fewer people seems to help). 

So, to maximize your time together, it pays to focus on the three P’s listed above—here’s our interpretation of them:

‍Purpose: The goal of your meeting generally indicates who needs to attend and how long it should be, so don’t send out any invites until you know what you want to discuss.

‍People: Reduce the number of people invited to a meeting. Only make a few guests mandatory, and connect with colleagues ahead of time to see if they want to attend—maybe a quick chat over asynchronous communication like email or Slack could suffice.

‍Process: Use a meeting agenda to keep the meeting on track, so you don’t go over time. Research shows that 15 minutes max is usually enough for each item in an agenda, helping you save valuable time.

And, when in doubt, don’t forget to use your timer—whatever shape it is.

Seriously, where do we get one of these?

Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.

Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable. 

Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.

We hear you. 

Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.

Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization. 

Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.

We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.

Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar

First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)

You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.

Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.

From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.

Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.

Now, the fun begins

You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page. 

Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).

(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)

From there, you want to complete your profile. 

Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.

But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting. 

Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.

Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability. 

Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.

Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.

Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters. 

You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).

You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.

And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.

Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.

If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.

You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.

Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android. 
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.