We can’t go on meeting like this

You probably spend a lot of your time in meetings (virtual and face to face).

There may be many tasks you would like to get on with, but find you have to postpone because of the time you must spend in meetings.

There is a fair chance that for at least some of the meetings you currently attend, one of the following will be true.

  • The meeting was unnecessary
  • Your presence at it was unnecessary
  • You did not need to attend the entire meeting
  • The meeting could have been shorter
  • The frequency of these (regular) meetings is too high
  • The meeting could have been better organized/chaired/prepared
  • The problem that gave rise to the meeting could be fixed – for good

If you could save just an hour or two each week, think what you could do with the time.

So what to do? Next time you organize or attend a meeting think about the following, and if you should be spending your time better

Questions about the regular meetings you attend, but don’t call.

  • Why do you attend these meetings?
  • Do you need to attend the meeting at all? If so, do you need to be there for the entire meeting?
  • Could someone else go in your place?
  • Do you have any influence on the duration, timing, or frequency of these meetings?
  • What changes would you like to see?

If you have some influence, what is the most effective way of applying it?

Questions about urgent unplanned meetings

  • Was the meeting necessary in the first place?
  • Was your attendance really needed, and if so, why?
  • What circumstances gave rise to the meeting (problem/cause)?
  • Could the same cause require more urgent meetings in future?
  • How can the cause(s) of such urgent meetings be eliminated?
  • What can you do about it?

Questions about meetings you call

  • Are these meetings always necessary?
  • Do you issue and agenda and is the purpose always clear?
  • Do you know what you really want from these meetings?
  • Do you ensure that you, and others, are fully prepared beforehand?
  • Do you set finish times and, if you do, do you stick to those times?
  • Do we ensure we leave the meetings with a clear plan with meaningful actions, owners and timescales?
  • Do you control the meetings effectively – ensure everyone is involved, no one person dominates discussion and use ‘car-parking’ to keep the meeting on topic?
  • What would you have to do in order to make the meetings shorter, or less frequent?

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