In Defense of Meetings

The meeting gets a bad rap. Why?

Most people describe meetings they have experienced as:

  • Long,
  • Boring, and
  • Pointless

Meetings exist because they must. We put them on the calendar, so we must hold them. In a large company, it wouldn’t be uncommon to spend most of your days in one meeting or another.

Experts have long written about the stupidity of meetings, and the need for their death.

And it’s true, most meetings are a waste of everyone’s time. But that’s because most people don’t know how to run effective meetings.

Conducted effectively, meetings can be:

  • Short,
  • Simple, and
  • Critical to success

We don’t need to kill meetings. We need to kill bad meetings. And it starts with setting some ground rules.

Meeting Ground Rules:

  1. All meetings should have a defendable need to exist. If some other activity can accomplish the same goals as your meeting, it’s not important and should be scrapped.
  2. Meetings should have a clear goal, defined by the meeting organizer, which all the attendees should know in advance.
  3. Meetings are for making decisions, which means that it is up to the meeting organizer to plan well in advance and make sure every attendee has everything they need to come prepared to jump right in.
  4. Meetings should involve the absolute minimum number of attendees needed to make a decision.
  5. Meetings must have a reasonable time limit. Everyone must arrive promptly and work toward a resolution quickly.
  6. Meetings end when the decision is made. They should leave attendees with a set of actionable next steps.

Meetings are a necessary part of doing business, in most companies at least. So instead of looking at them with dread, let’s take the steps needed to make them better.