Why are we meeting?
Before you schedule, invite, or accept a meeting request, the very first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Why are we meeting?” While meetings can help solidify an idea, move a project forward, and may even save your company millions – it could also just be a giant waste of everyone’s time.
Meeting to discuss a meeting
Let’s be honest and admit that most meetings aren’t to talk about work, they are to talk about the work that you need to do later. This can be fine when the conversation is kept short and succinct, and is more of a touch base between colleagues to make sure everything is on track. However, this starts becoming a problem when you have meeting after meeting with no real productivity.
There was already a meeting about this
There is no point in having a meeting to discuss what has already been discussed. Even in a productivity meeting or during contract negotiations, the dialog is moving forward and progressing. If you are meeting just so someone can “talk it out”, then the whole team doesn’t need to be involved.
When brainstorming, only include those who can contribute their expertise. All other employees are superfluous and you are wasting their time by having them attend.
The cost of a meeting
We tend to think of a one-hour meeting as ‘costing’ one hour of time. And it would be – if there was only one person in that meeting. But ten people in a meeting equals 10 hours of time. That’s quite a lot of productivity and money lost for an organisation to have one meeting. If a meeting can be accomplished by two to three people talking for a couple of minutes, or – even better – by email, then that is what should happen.
Take a walking meeting
If you have the power, cancel those in-between meetings – the ones where you meet to plan for the meeting. Instead go for a quick meeting walk around the office with the person you need to make a decision with. You will both make decisions quicker. As an added bonus, by moving you will be avoiding physical stress too.
Send an email instead
If you can summarise everything that would be discussed in a meeting with one email – send that email instead. You don’t need to have a meeting for announcements that are general updates. If matters start getting more complex then you can schedule a call or meeting.
Decision makers should be present
If the purpose of your meeting is to make a decision, make sure your decision maker is present. If they cannot make the meeting, reschedule it to when they can. Alternatively, if a leader can be presented with all the facts to make that decision on their own, maybe you don’t need the meeting at all.
Meetings feel important
There is a subtle power to a meeting. Everyone feels like important decisions are being made. But if nothing is accomplished then all that meeting is doing is creating a work illusion for everyone to buy into. You feel special being in a meeting with the CEO if you are a junior employee. But if you aren’t going to be able to contribute to that meeting, or learn anything, then you shouldn’t be there.
So why are we meeting?
You can’t undo the time wasted if a meeting isn’t productive. But you can control when you schedule a meeting and who you invite. By using a decision flowchart, you can determine if you should schedule a meeting or not. It will also help you decide if you need to be attending every meeting you are invited to. It might even be worthwhile sharing with your team.
Don’t schedule a meeting, we are a call away
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