This was originally written on November 22, 2012 when I was an Individual Contributor. I’ve written an updated post on Meetings can be Poisonous
Last week I was talking with a group of friends about what their “perfect workday” would be. A number of scenarios were discussed when one person said “an entire day filled with meetings”. I began asking them questions about why they felt this way and what their meetings entailed to try to get an understanding of why they would want an entire day of meetings.
After a brief conversation, I came to the conclusion that meetings are poisonous and should be removed from the social norm of the business world.
Meetings Kill Productivity
One of the biggest problems with meetings is that they kill productivity. Every time you have a meeting your mind has to switch contexts and focus on something other than what you were working on. When the meeting is over your mind has to switch back to what you were working on in the first place.
Every time you have to context switch you lose valuable time that could have been used to complete your tasks quicker.
Meetings Waste Time
Meetings, more often than not, waste the time of everyone attending. People start daydreaming, surfing the internet or working on other things as soon as the topic goes to anything that’s not directly related to their job. If the meeting has more than five people there is no way it can keep everyone’s attention.
Even when the meeting stays on topic, very little is accomplished. Decisions that can be made in the short time-span of the meeting can often be made without a meeting and harder decisions are generally impossible to reach with the consensus of a group.
Meetings Frustrate People
When was the last time you heard someone say “That meeting was great, I got a lot out of it”? People generally leave meetings frustrated and annoyed because they waste time, kill their productivity and get little done. Often meetings won’t go as scheduled and this leaves the employees even more frustrated. Thirty-minute meetings can quickly turn into hour-long meetings if the leader is disorganized or there isn’t a specific game plan laid out for the meeting.
Tips for Meetings (if you must have one)
30 minutes or less: Longer meetings don’t mean you get more done. Keep your meetings short and on point.
End the meeting early: Ending the meeting early will make people think it was productive.
No Laptops or Phones: These just provide distractions for people and take away from the purpose of the meeting.
Take Charge: The person who calls the meeting should take charge. When there’s not a leader people get off track unfocused.
5 People or Less: As soon as you have more than 5 people the meeting gets out of hand. Keeping it to less than 5 people means everyone can talk and discuss without stepping on one another’s toes.
Action Plan: Every meeting should end with an action plan. This action plan should have 3 items or less so people can quickly get them done.
Before you schedule your next meeting ask yourself “Is this meeting necessary”. If the answer is yes, make sure you follow the above tips to make sure you don’t waste everyone’s time.