Do you really need that meeting? Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo











Most people in most organisations have suffered their way through at least one pointless meeting. You’ve probably all got examples where a meeting was over too quick and felt like a waste of time, went on too long and you lost interest, or you didn’t have a clue what the people at the meeting were on about.

Even worse is when meetings are used as an excuse to procrastinate and put off what really needs doing. A meeting for meeting’s sake where everyone gathers to go over old ground and for the organiser to look like they’re doing something positive.

Any of these scenarios are hugely frustrating. You’ve got work to be getting on with and your time could be better spent doing it. To add to the frustration, you might not have much time to get the work done now as the meeting cut your afternoon in half and you’ll have to work late to catch up.

Meetings are a necessary evil in most organisations, and can’t be avoided totally in most cases. However, to be really effective, they need to carefully planned and thought about beforehand.

What’s the meeting about? When’s the best time to have it, and where? Who needs to be there? What do people need to know before they arrive?

These are all relevant questions to ask yourself. It’s all well and good sending meeting requests to people to come to this or that meeting, but make sure you give them some context with the invite.

This might seem obvious, but invite the right people. If someone’s not needed until later on in the project, don’t invite them until then so they’re ready to get started. Pick a room or place that’s not too far for everyone to get to easily that has all the equipment you need too.

There are some organisations out there (or people in them at least) that only have meetings one day week in an effort to cut down on the amount they hold. If someone can’t make that day, they have to reschedule to next week or find another way to do things. They also insist on meetings being in one place all day, agendas being available before the meeting, and to keep meetings to 50mins to allow for breaks in-between.

These organisations also have the understanding that the meeting day is just for that purpose and no other – or very little – work gets done. They don’t get stressed about this and don’t have to stay behind to finish up.

You don’t have to go this radical in your organisation – maybe swapping a meeting for an email or phone call could do the trick, although these come with their own issues. But thinking about the way you do things a bit more and avoiding those annoying meetings for meeting’s sake can help everyone.

What ways have you found to make meetings more productive or avoid having too many in your organisation?