Is anything to be attained by holding a meeting or is it just “the thing to do” for buy-in on a decision that is already made or a chance to vent on an unpopular idea. If this is the case, is the cost of the meeting worth the labor and morale expense to the project or business? Before scheduling that next meeting, ask “Is this meeting really necessary?” Use the five indicators below to help answer the question and determine when not keep up to a meeting.
- Meeting owner is not able to express a valid purpose for the meeting objectives, goals, and desired accomplishments in one or two written sentences. Why is this particular meeting needed at this specific time? If the purpose for the meeting can not be defined, then the meeting is irrelevant and would be a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t go any further in the planning course of action until a true business-related purpose is defined.
- Meeting leader has no set agenda stating topics and group actions to be taken on each. If the person organizing the meeting can not focus well enough to plan the action steps the meeting should progress by, how can they expect the people invited to focus on reaching the desired results? Agendas are necessary to focus the meeting, guide the time of action, in addition as for starting and ending the meeting on time.
- Active participation from all possible attendees is not required to meet the dominant purpose and topics of the meeting. Why call a meeting if there is no group work to be done? If there is something that needs to be shared with one or two people, who usually come to your meetings, consider having a short informal meeting in your office, the break room, a quick hallway chat, or using the phone. This saves the time of others who would have to sit by a meeting with topics that may not relate to their work efforts. If information is to be shared that does not require discussion, determine if it could be provided in a written form instead. If it can, then send the information in an email or as an attachment instead of putting everyone in a meeting room or on a conference call.
- Attendees who are able to come the meeting may not be the ones that are needed there on the chosen date and time. For example, important decision makers or those who best understand the problem or work to be discussed are unable to attend. If a decision has already been made, is a meeting necessary to tell everyone or pretend to get “buy-in?” This can rule to low trust in the meeting leader. Is it applicable to discuss a perceived problem or work flow issues, if the people closest to the problem or issue are not obtainable? Leaving out those most involved will not produce effective results and can rule to resentment.
- Meeting organizer can not find a good place to keep up the meeting. This may seem obvious, but some people truly do all of the above planning but forget to book a location for the meeting! Is there a room obtainable that has comfortable seating for all attendees? Will this room meet any technical requirements that may be necessary for the meeting? Is the meeting location functional for most attendees? Most people don’t look forward to meetings, especially if they experience discomfort, waste time on equipment problems, or have to use additional time just to travel to the meeting. If a meeting location was not arranged in improvement, then too much valuable time will be wasted trying to find a place to meet when everyone arrives on-site, so just reschedule it to another date.
Keep in mind, just because a regularly scheduled meeting time and location is set, it doesn’t average everyone has to be pulled together. If any of the above five indicators show up when planning a meeting, then just cancel the meeting for this week or for the time being if this will not affect project or team productivity. By canceling unnecessary meetings, everyone who would be involved may see more of a need for the meeting the following week. For certain all the possible meeting attendees will have more time for accomplishing other work in the current week. People usually appreciate it if they do not have to attend a formal meeting that is unnecessary. By canceling unnecessary meetings, planned attendees can use the time more wisely on their own. Remember to plan meeting properly and always ask “Is this meeting really necessary?”