“Do I need to be at that meeting?”

It’s snowing and I will have to shovel.  But, before I do, I pulled up a 2012 article about why people hate meetings and realized not much has changed:

1. Meetings allow people to delay decisions
2. Most people who are in meetings don't need to be there
3. People call meetings because they're afraid to make a decision
4. Many people who call a meeting don't have a clear agenda or objective
5. People call 30-minute meetings for things that can be decided in five minutes
6. Most meetings cost too much

Technology helps but not as much as my snow blower has helped make it easier for me to clear my driveway.

Big problem is that people tend to look at a meeting as a solution to not exactly knowing how to move forward.  Then they don’t prepare for a meeting correctly — they put a quick agenda together, walk in and hope the solution will show itself. But, that rarely works, so a small checklist may help:

Start with a 30-minute meeting

By starting with only 30 minutes of peoples’ times — it keeps you focused on ensuring your meeting is targeted to the task at hand.

What one thing do you need out of it

Write down what the real need is — do you need to update people, do you need to discuss something?  Be very clear about the objectives when more than 2 people are brought together.  

Determine attendees

Based on what you need out of it — who needs to come?  For a half hour meeting, you only need a few people.  If you respect only those that absolutely should be there, people will appreciate it.

Send a “Coming Soon” note about the meeting

Let ‘invitees’ know before hand about the meeting and that you will send an invitation.  (i.e., give them ‘warning’)  I hate getting invitations for meetings when I haven’t been informed first that something needs to be decided.  

Develop agenda (around the actual objective of the meeting). 

Remember to send any topline summaries, or short backgrounds ahead of time so people don’t have to use meeting time for that.  And make sure that background information is very brief.  Once you develop a very targeted agenda — make sure the time matches and adjust it if you need to.  I have ended meetings early because the need was realized earlier.  Then let people go. 

Remember logistics!

Once you have your agenda and meeting time, you need to do the logistics space, teleconference numbers, invitations.  


Finally, send the materials out about a week before the meeting, gently reminding them of the meeting.  Also send a quick note the day before to remind people.

Be clear at the meeting

Always state the meeting’s objective so that people know — when you bring them back to the reason they are called there.  And you may need someone to take notes.   

Keep, keep, keep to the agenda

Everyone will appreciate it.

Follow up

After the meeting, assemble the notes in an actionable way and be very clear about the outcome and next steps.  Send to attendees; people want to know that there was some value to their time at the meeting.  Thank them again and drop them a note if there are other updates to share. 

Hold to this concept and people will then appreciate giving time to your meetings.