Meetings as last resorts

How many meetings, calls or presentations do you attend, that make you wish you had your time back?

In most companies today, large and small, our schedules are packed with meetings and events. Quite often, they are not the best use of time for the people attending it.

In the past, when information had to be conveyed within organizations, there were few options other than to put them through a meeting. Today, when information can be dissected, targeted, customized and posted online, large scale meetings are becoming outdated relics. What we need today is fewer meetings and better reporting systems.

A meeting must ensure, that it be of more use to every person in attendance than all possible alternatives. If you can convey something via email or by sending a document across, refrain from calling a meeting.

Meetings ought not to be a cover up for ineffective use of alternatives. They should not contain information of low-relevance to most people in attendance. They should not be used to mollify the egos of people in authority. They should not stand in as excuses for work that somebody could have done on their own. They must not be used as a bureaucratic ritual. When a meeting falls into any of these categories, it is a symptom of poor company culture.

Further, each meeting ought to sell itself to its attendees, rather than be imposed on them as an obligation. The onus of getting people interested in the meeting ought to rest solely on the organizer. If people know that the meeting is important enough, they will attend it. If they don’t, they must not be penalized.

The larger the meeting is, the more time it has the potential to waste, for both the members in attendance or the organization as a whole. Therefore, they must be the last resort and not the first.

Further reading: A meeting checklist by Seth Godin

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