Virtual meetings have become the norm right around the world. The acceptance of digital meetings has accelerated and they’re used in both personal and professional settings.
This article will discuss the ideal length of time for a virtual meeting. Understanding how long a virtual meeting should last will help planners to avoid fatigue and maximize the results obtained from the meeting.
How Long Should a Virtual Meeting Last?
In our recent survey done in the United States, 49% of the respondents said that a virtual meeting should last 30 minutes.
On the other hand, 21% of the respondents said that a virtual meeting should last 45 minutes while 25% said that it should last 60 minutes.
Combining these groups, 95% of the respondents think that a virtual meeting should last between 30 minutes and an hour.
In this survey, 3% of the respondents thought that a meeting that lasted 15 minutes would be ideal. Only 2% would prefer a meeting that lasted 75 minutes and 1% would like virtual meetings to last 90 minutes.
Virtual Meetings Should Be 30 Minutes Long
Where possible, meeting planners should aim for meetings that last 30 minutes. In the survey, 49% of respondents said that the ideal virtual meeting should be 30 minutes long.
The majority of attendees in personal or professional meetings would prefer to only spend 30 minutes listening, sharing their own ideas, and discussing results or plans with others.
This goes across all sectors so, whether you’re involved in journalism or medicine, this is the ideal time to stick to for a virtual meeting.
Survey Shows Meetings Under an Hour Are Usually Ideal
The survey shows that most respondents did not want a meeting to surpass 30 minutes. In fact, 95% of the respondents would prefer that meetings lasted one hour or less. This time would include all presentations that would need to take place, such as reports from different departments.
It’s important for meeting planners to clearly define the purpose of a meeting. If a meeting doesn’t have a definite purpose and results can’t be clearly defined, maybe it’s not necessary to have one.
Meeting planners should be able to write an outline of the meeting and adjust that online to make the meeting more effective.
When meetings are being planned, those who need to deliver reports should bear their time limits in mind and should stick to the time that they’re given for their presentations.
Ideally, in virtual meetings, facts contained in the reports should be presented within less than 5 minutes. This allows the information to be processed quickly without the risk of boring attendees.
If it is that some presenters consistently exceed the time that they’ve been given whenever they attend virtual meetings, perhaps they should be asked to share their information in another format. If meetings are to be effective, the time spent within them must be used to get the results that are aimed for.
When someone exceeds their time, they drain the energy of all those who are participating and decrease the benefits that can be obtained from doing the other activities that have been planned for the meeting.
Results for Virtual Meetings Mirroring In-Person Trends
The results for virtual meetings mirror those for in-person meetings. That is, the ideal length of time for a virtual meeting is the same as that of a meeting that takes place in person.
Organizations have meetings right throughout the year. However, when in-person meetings are assessed, attendees say that they feel a third of their time is usually wasted. 
Meeting length is a critical factor that affects the perception of an organization’s productivity.
Even in a virtual setting, if team members are constantly forced to attend meetings that they think of as a waste of their time, they’ll think that the organization doesn’t value their time. Meetings that are too long can negatively affect morale.
The first signs of this are large virtual meetings, where the majority leave the camera off.
Ideal Meeting Length Is Based on Attention Span
The ideal length of a meeting is based on the attention span of human beings. People usually experience their highest level of focus in a meeting for around 25 minutes.
After that, their attention begins to decline. So, it’s important to plan meetings while considering how the human brain functions.
Studies show that the human attention span has been steadily decreasing, especially over the last few decades.  In a virtual setting, it’s especially important to keep messages clear.
Any messages that are delivered within a meeting should also be short and direct, just like the meeting. Otherwise, attendees are likely to forget a lot of what is said and they’ll be less likely to stick to decisions that have been made in the meeting during their regular work.
Perception of Meeting Effectiveness
When people are attending a meeting, it takes away from the time that they can spend on other activities.
People sometimes see meetings as a distraction especially if they take place during a time when they’re already under pressure or have to meet deadlines. 
In this situation, it’s best to ensure that all participants see that they’re getting value for the time that they invest in a meeting. Meetings should be planned for within the 30 minutes to the one-hour range, thereby satisfying the majority of the respondents in the survey.
Are 15-Minute Meetings Ideal?
Meetings that last 15 minutes or less are ideal for some people. In fact, the results show that 3% of the respondents thought that this meeting length was always ideal. Many meetings can be planned to only take around 15 minutes.
These are designed to maximize the rate at which participants deliver feedback in virtual environments. So, in many cases, teams will be presented with documentation that prepared them for the meeting.
They review the information before they log on so that they can address these documents in the virtual setting. During the meeting, the focus is on addressing problems in a group setting and tackling issues that wouldn’t be as easily resolved via email or other forms of communication.
Matt Vargas is an author and public speaking coach with a degree in sociology and more than ten years of practical experience. Matt is responsible for the empirical surveys at everyday-courtesy.com, is a passionate recreational musician, and blogs here about his experiences in the field of interpersonal communication.