Why so many meetings are not necessary

24 Sep 2021

Meeting are important — sometimes. But not always. Quite often meetings are not necessary.

The two main reasons for meetings are also the two biggest reasons they aren’t necessary:

  • Meetings are set up to share information. These meetings can be done by email, newsletter, or some other written method. People can read written messages in their own time. If written information is coupled with a clear way to ask questions then a meeting isn’t necessary
  • Status update meetings. Urgh…how painful is it to sit in a room (or on Zoom) and listen to people talk about what their team did that week? 95% of the people in the room get no value from those updates

My tip: Stop having general status update meetings.

How can you tell the difference between a relevant meeting and one that won’t add value?

A relevant meeting has good content in the invitation. The content of the invite shows the topic of the meeting, why the meeting is being set up (to solve a problem, answer a question, create a plan, etc). The invite should also show the expected outcome and output (a list of actions, an approved plan, etc).

If the invite has these things you can instantly tell if the meeting is valuable for you and if you can add value to it.

What should all professionals knew about unnecessary meetings?

Unnecessary meetings damage reputations. If you waste people’s time they will not have a high opinion of you. Blank meeting invitations are rude. You wouldn’t walk up to someone, tell them to be in a meeting room at a certain time, not share any more information, and then walk away. That would be rude. If you wouldn’t do it in person, why is it OK to do it in an invitation?

Two tips to avoid pointless meetings

1. Decline invites that are blank.

You wouldn’t go to a social party if the invitation was blank, so why should it be any different at work? The sender will either contact you to give more info, or they won’t mind that you didn’t attend.

2. Ask for specifics about the value you bring to the meeting.

If you are unsure of what you will add to a meeting asking the following things: What is the topic? What do you intent me to provide in the meeting? What is the expected output or outcome? The reply gives you the information to make an informed decision about attending. If there is no reply, then decline the meeting.

Learn more with my online course

Have great meetings

‘Have great meetings’ course with Chris Fenning

In this course you’ll learn a simple way to prepare and run a great meeting, no matter the topic.

This course is for people who are fed up with long, boring and ineffective meetings. If you want to run a meeting that produces something useful, this course is for you. And if you’d like people to turn up and be engaged, this course is for you, too.

You’ll learn the five simple steps that make preparing for and running a meeting easy. These steps ensure you invite the right people, help everyone focus, produce a valuable output from the meeting, and do all this in the least amount of time possible.


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