From Pizza to Punk: 5 Ways Leaders Make Meetings Work

08/13/2015 11:08 am ET Updated Aug 13, 2016

There's no denying that meeting other human beings face to face is valuable when you need to communicate nuance, make an impression, learn or collaborate. Think about it, we've all been in THAT meeting. The meeting that never seems to end, in which you resort to biting your tongue, or surreptitiously surfing the web, in order to stay awake and maintain sanity - all the while knowing your inbox is filling up and project deadlines are creeping closer. Here are five surprisingly simple ways today's most prominent and creative business leaders circumvent the meeting doldrums to get the job done -- supported by data taken from over five million online meetings courtesy Blue Jeans State of the Modern Meeting Index.

Sandberg Says: Make it Quick!
Facebook dynamo Sheryl Sandberg has a lot on her plate. According to recent data, women "lean in" to meetings, attending 10 percent more of them than men. However, Sheryl manages by keeping meetings short and to-the-point. If it only takes 10 minutes to go through a meeting that was scheduled for an hour, the meeting's over in 10 minutes. People seem to be picking up on this time-saving strategy to shrink meeting duration whenever possible. The data shows that the meeting sweet spot is just over 30 minutes.

Bezos to Team: Get it while it's hot!
Amazon's Jeff Bezos keeps meetings small. By only ordering two pizzas to feed his attendees, Bezos has found the magic pizza party number to draw the right sized crowd to his meetings. This simple and effective tactic limits meeting participants to the crucial voices and avoids the analysis paralysis that can set in with an over-saturation of opinions. Keeping meetings small has led to quality meetings and enough pizza to go around!

Nadella Says: I'll See You Friday - or - Skip it!
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants to stay abreast of issues and push performance aggressively. To that end, he meets with his senior leadership team every Friday to coordinate progress. Though meetings are getting shorter and smaller, Nadella's frequent meeting style fits the national trend. Along with more frequent, more meaningful meetings Nardella empowers his staff to save time by avoiding unnecessary meetings, encouraging them to skip meetings if they really don't need to be there.

No Meetings Wednesday - Try Tuesday Instead!
Facebook started a trend of startup companies declaring a "No Meetings Wednesday" policy - and they were on to something, Blue Jeans' data shows that the most popular day of the week for a meeting is actually Tuesday. Also jumping on the trend to stop meeting madness is technology company Asana, who recently implementing Wednesday as a "flow" day focused on productive work without interruption and reports that the results carry over to other days of the week, too. The most common time of day to meet is 3pm, which should also provide a change of scene and access to a fresh cup of coffee, given that mid-afternoon is commonly considered the energetic low-point of the day. No matter the day or time, scheduling that considers the priorities and demands of invitees will improve the likelihood that your meetings will be well-attended by bright-eyed colleagues.

Meetings - Punk Rock Style
Conventional corporate culture can be stifling, especially in B2B environments. Take a page from former punk rocker turned security software CEO, Timothy Eades, and resist the pressures of meeting norms. Eades isn't afraid to stand apart from the crowd in favor of being an individual, quoting Joey Ramone on punk rock leadership: "To me, punk is about being an individual and going against the grain and standing up and saying 'This is who I am.'" As the person who calls the meeting, you have the opportunity to set the tone. Punk rock meeting management should shake things up with nonconformist ideas, the freedom to wear a costume to communicate an idea, and maybe pipe in your favorite Green Day song to get the groove going. The point is: it's your show.