The Most Productive Meetings Have Fewer Than 8 People

There are many problems with the way most meetings are run. One of the most political is the invite list. Deciding who to include can be tough but too many managers default to including everyone. In an effort to not make anyone feel left out, they unknowingly decrease the quality of the meeting. Robert Sutton, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, looked at the research on group size and concluded that the most productive meetings contain only five to eight people. Why? There is a tipping point beyond which the quality of the conversation begins to erode.

When well-intended managers are too inclusive with their meeting invites:

There is not enough time for everyone to participate in the conversation.
Rich back and forth debate is replaced by shallow comments.
Information-sharing and catch-ups distract from addressing higher priority issues.
People become more guarded and less candid.
Tough topics and decisions are not put on the agenda, then are dealt with off-line instead.
As a result, people often lose respect for the meeting which leads to less preparation, participation, and action. It can become a vicious downward cycle.
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