Instructional designer Stevie Rocco invented a great term for the perfect meeting – the short (but frequent) “punch meeting”. I try to squeeze these in to most projects (like Blended Learning Courses).
It should be noted that the initial meetings on a project are as long as the other “lengthy” meetings we may not be so fond of, but, believe it or not, they rapidly shorten in only a few weeks. Sometimes you can skip to phone meetings, e-mail and canceling meetings. Like a miracle of nature – you will begin to “gain” time for “real work”.
To me the key is frequency. If you put them off too long (e.g. once a month), issues tend to build up and people forget things – it’s not nearly as productive.
It also leads to the other dreaded type of meeting – the emergency “pop-up” meeting. These are the ones where your serene work flow is interrupted by yet another crisis requiring your immediate attention. You can’t avoid all of these, but maybe the punch meetings can knock these down to a more manageable number.