Say “No” To Another Meeting

Think twice before scheduling another meeting.  And, give serious thought before automatically accepting another meeting invitation. Meetings cost us our productivity and companies a lot of money.

A “State of Meetings” report from Doodle said the cost of poorly organized meetings costs US companies $399 billion a year.  Besides, when workers were surveyed, 44 percent said that too many meetings meant they couldn’t get their other work done on time.

We all complain about having too many meetings. We don’t seem inclined to change. Research shows that most workers attend about 62 meetings every month. With an average of 21 working days per month, that’s almost three meetings per day 

I can only think of two reasons to have a meeting.

To share and discuss information on a topic of importance to those in attendance. If someone wants to hold a meeting just to share information, suggest that it be done via email rather than take up a lot of time from those who would attend.

Hold a meeting if you need to discuss options related to the shared information or when decisions must be made.

But I can think of more reasons where meetings are unnecessary or when you should politely decline to attend.

(1) Refuse a meeting where there is no agenda. Meetings like this have no real purpose and will mean that the conversation will wander from topic to topic, and its ending will happen when people grow weary rather than reach a decision.

(2) If you are invited to a meeting where the topic doesn’t affect you or your work, politely decline. Attend meetings only when your participation is required.

Keep these things in mind when you have to schedule a meeting:

(1) Don’t automatically default to one-hour meeting blocks. If you have one or two agenda items, try to get it done in thirty minutes. If the meeting is run effectively, it should be easy to accomplish.

(2) Consider having all participants stand instead of sitting on comfortable chairs and much on snacks.  You will find that you can accomplish just as much, but they have been shown to increase productivity and reduce time spent in meetings by 34 percent.

Many tech companies have replaced traditional meetings with ‘scrums’ for the same reason.

It is typical for some organizations to hold regular status or update meetings. They can be valuable or a waste of time, depending on how they are run. Keep them on track by reviewing what has been completed since the last meeting, what needs to be accomplished before the next meeting, and what issues prevent them from achieving their goals. The group’s discussion should focus on resolving these issues 

Protect your calendar from too many meetings. Kris Duggan, the CEO of Betterworks, told Business Insider that top executives could easily spend most of their time in meetings. Duggan suggests a maximum of only two or three meetings in the afternoon while reserving the mornings of uninterrupted work time. If you block out times on your calendar, they won’t fill up with appointments.

It’s time to stop complaining about unnecessary meetings by doing something about them. As economist John Kenneth Galbraith reflected, “Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

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