Are you tired of wasting time at work?
Do you want to reduce or eliminate the amount of meetings held in the office?
Now, we all know unnecessary meetings are huge time wasters.
Not only is time wasted in the meeting itself, but countless minutes are lost in the process of planning and organizing unnecessary meetings.
The question that remains is, what constitutes a true time waster of a meeting?
In this post, I offer a collection of seven types of meetings that should be avoided.
If you’re really serious about curtailing unnecessary meetings, you can’t go wrong checking your potential meetings against this list!
The “Let’s Meet Because it Seems Like a Good Idea” Meeting
Let’s be realistic for a moment: holding a meeting isn’t a good idea in and of itself.
Huh? Let me take a moment to explain myself…
A meeting is an event where you can solve a problem, tackle a challenge, or address otherwise sticky issues and situations.
Now, the process of organizing a meeting date, time, location, as well as attendees, may seem like work on the surface, but the real work takes place during the meeting itself. The meeting is where ideas are presented, thoughts are discussed, votes are cast, and next steps planned.
Unfortunately, simply calling a meeting to order doesn’t magically make the meeting important. It’s what takes place during, and after, the meeting, that makes it important.
The “We’ll Only Review Past/Already Known Information” Meeting
While it’s important to review past or existing information during a meeting, this shouldn’t be the only information you discuss.
Generally speaking, the focus of your meeting should be firmly planted in the present and near future. You want to make the most of current news, information, data, and resources, as well as your attendees’ presence. After all, you’re taking time to meet with others to review information, discuss items, and come to a conclusion or plan of action.
Rehashing information that is already well-known, reviewing decisions that have already been made, or entirely repeating a meeting that has already been held is fool hearty. You want to make progress with your work, and not simply revel in past accomplishments with no forward motion.
The “Listen to Me” Meeting
Have you ever attended a meeting where one person takes the floor and talks for hours and hours? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
Now, this isn’t to say that one person talking is a bad thing. But, having that one person talk for minutes or hours on end, on subjects that don’t relate to a meeting’s goal, with no apparent end in sight, can be a real buzz killer.
Unfortunately, this type of meeting is one of those meetings where you really don’t have much say; especially if the person doing the talking is your boss, supervisor, or superior! In this case, you may not be able to avoid attending such a meeting.
So, what are you supposed to do in this case? Well, you can familiarize yourself with and recognize the appearance of a “Listen to Me” meeting. This way, you can at least prepare yourself mentally and physically for the inevitable. For example, you might try to clear or modify your schedule after the meeting, so you’ll have time to catch up on work, or prevent yourself from arriving late to an appointment.
The “I Don’t Actually Have Enough Information to Hold a Meeting” Meeting
This breed of meeting is similar to the “Let’s Meet Because it Seems Like a Good Idea” and “We’ll Only Review Past/Already Known Information” meetings.
In this case, for some reason or another, someone is itching to hold a meeting. However, they do not have enough information, data, resources, or testimonials, to make a solid case of actually bringing a meeting to order.
Here’s an analogy for you. Imagine someone inviting you over to their house specifically for some delicious cake and coffee. However, when you arrive at their front door, they tell you they don’t actually have any coffee or cake, in the house. Not only was their invitation disappointing, it was also misleading!
If you’re planning on holding a meeting, do your best to ensure there is enough information to be reviewed, exchanged, discussed, probed, or debated at the meeting. If you do not have enough materials, you may want to rethink holding the meeting until you have more items in-hand.
The “No Agenda Meeting”
Okay, it’s time for some tough, yet realistic advice: every meeting needs an agenda. Period.
An agenda helps you stay on schedule and on target when it comes to discussing the goals of your meeting. You can think of an agenda as a map or a guide to help you and your attendees successfully trek the distance between Point A to Point E.
An agenda clearly paves the way for what should be discussed, and what shouldn’t, during your allotted meeting time. A meeting without an agenda is like going on a trip to a distant land without a map, and hoping you’ll successfully reach Point E on the first try.
The “Let’s Chat for a Few Minutes” Meeting
“Do you have a few minutes to talk?” This is probably one of the most unrecognized meetings out there. This innocent statement has the potential to derail even the most highly-booked of schedules.
If you really need to speak with someone about an important topic, make a point to schedule a meeting for a specific date and time.
You and your invitee will feel better knowing you’ve set aside a specific time to chat. What’s more, the rest of your scheduled meetings and appointments won’t be threatened by the allure of an impromptu conversation.
The “Let’s Invite Everyone!” Meeting
Meeting attendees should be selected with care. It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a business meeting, or a personal gathering. Not everyone should be invited to every meeting.
Here’s a fun example for you. Let’s say, you and your friends are organizing a surprise birthday party for your friend, Joanna. You’re planning a meeting to discuss the party in-depth: including the food, decorations, cake, music, and games.
Now, would you extend an invitation to Joanna to take part in this planning meeting? Of course you wouldn’t! Not only would it spoil the surprise for Joanna, but it would be a complete waste of time for you, and the rest of your friends. You wouldn’t be able to plan the party in secret.
This same basic concept applies when it comes to holding any other type of meeting. Should someone actually be invited to a meeting…or not? Does their work directly relate to the goals at hand? Will they be able to actually contribute to the meeting? Would their talents or skills be better served elsewhere during the meeting?
How about you? Which of these meetings do you find yourself sitting in on a regular basis? Are there any other meeting types you’d like to add to this list?Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.