The TED-Inspired Meeting Scheduling Experiment

Given the growing popularity of TED, we’re all becoming familiar with the idea of their specific time limits (18, 9, 6, or 3 minutes). I recently attended a TEDx webinar where it was explained that the reason for the multiples-of-three time limits is that people take them more seriously than multiples-of-five time limits. Time-limits which are multiples of five are often perceived to be suggestions or approximations, whereas 18 minutes sounds exact.

I wonder how this philosophy would carry over to meetings? As noted in a recent BusinessWeek article on how to give a Ted-worthy presentation:

“If scientist Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica, ‘the world’s most powerful global computation system,’ can offer an 18-minute presentation on his quest to make all human knowledge computational and searchable, then you can surely deliver your team update in the same amount of time or less. Einstein once said that nothing is so complicated that it cannot be explained simply. TED talks prove it.”

Is updating each other on the progress of each of our sales leads, or giving a run-down of top team priorities for the week, really more complicated than Mathematica? Or does the difference lie in preparation and the perceived hard-and-fastness of time limits?

It’s an extra click, but the next time you schedule a meeting, try setting an odd-number time limit. If you do, let us know how it goes for you.


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