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4 ways to avoid pointless meetings

Emma Cullen30 of October, 2018

7 mins

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We all have, at some point, experienced a meeting that wasn’t quite productive as it should have been or even been at a meeting that felt like a total waste of time. No one wants to waste their working hours, so let's explore four different ways you can avoid pointless meetings and learn how to work smarter!

We all have, at some point, experienced a meeting that wasn’t quite productive as it should have been or even been at a meeting that felt like a total waste of time. No one wants to waste their working hours, so let's explore four different ways you can avoid pointless meetings and learn how to work smarter!

1. Decide if you actually need a meeting

Whilst this might sound silly at first, the reality is that we are prone to wasting time by having meetings when the task or issue could have been solved with a quick phone call or email. Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines four questions you can use in order to decide if you need a meeting:

  1. Have I thought this situation through? If the answer to this question is “no”, then instead of booking a meeting, you need to make a plan. Set aside some time to think through the situation strategically so that you yourself have a clearer idea of what to do next. If the answer is “yes”, move on to the next question.

  2. Do I need outside input to make progress? If you feel that you can get on with the work yourself, there is really no need to book a meeting, simply book a time in your calendar to do the work. If something is blocking you and you need outside input, move onto the next question.

  3. Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? Now that you have established that you need some outside input, decide if you need to actually get this information in real-time. If not, simply send an email and wait for a response. If you do need a real-time conversation, move onto the next question.

  4. Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? Finally, decide if you need to have a face-to-face meeting. If you think that a message on your chat tool or a quick call will suffice, do that. If not, book that meeting!

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2. Use this matrix to know when to meet

Different meetings have different purposes. Some meetings are one-off, others are reccurring. Recurring meetings should be often enough to help you reach the purpose or goal you have, but should not be so irregular that you or your team gets sidetracked. The Lucid Meetings Blog has created an excellent matrix which offers a guide on how often to meet. Use it to find the right meeting rhythm and avoid having too many meetings!

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3. Only invite those who can add value

Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly who to invite to a meeting, especially one where an important decision to make. Inviting too many people, or people who cannot help you reach your goal can cause ineffective meetings. There is, however, two simple questions you can ask yourself which should result in you only inviting those who need to be there:

  1. Do I need input from this person in order to reach my goal?

  2. Will this person add valuable insights and contributions to the meeting?

If the answer is yes to at least one of these questions, then invite them!

4. Don’t be scared to decline meeting invites

When a meeting invite lands in your inbox, take a critical approach, rather than automatically deciding you can attend. If you do not think you have anything valuable you can add to the meeting, you should decline the meeting. If it is unclear if you need to be in the meeting or not, reach out the meeting organizer and ask for more information about the meeting. If you decide to decline the meeting, be polite and humble and explain your reason for declining the meeting.

Ready to start having more productive meetings? Mentimeter is a great tool for that! Learn more, or get started and register for your free account.

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Posted by Emma Cullen30 of October, 2018
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