To Meet or not to Meet?

To start this blog article off, meetings really only work if they are adding value to your work. If the meeting isn’t relevant, you shouldn’t waste your and everybody else's time. This might be stating the obvious or isn’t it? In practice, many meetings (20%) aren’t all that relevant. This is a quick check whether to meet or not:

The first question there is is if the meeting helps you to achieve your overall goal. If it doesn’t help you to come closer to your goal, just cancel.

But let’s just dive into how you can prevent having meetings which don’t have any added value.

Cancel the Meeting?

We get that it is a tough decision to cancel a meeting and we want to support you. Naturally, we came up with a quick checklist for practical use, which will help you to easily determine if you should go for it or if you should call off the meeting.

Is there a clear goal?
Is a meeting the way to reach this goal? ~
Is there something substantial, meaningful to discuss?
Are the necessary participants present?
Is everyone prepared? ~
meeting cancel?

Cancel the Meeting Before It Takes Place

So you decided it is best to cancel the meeting. Don’t wait too long, cancel it as soon as possible. Participants are shouldn't invest time and energy in something that isn’t going to happen. Respecting one others time will be much appreciated; no-one likes to sit in a meeting that doesn't add any value to its participants.

Cancel the Meeting During the Meeting

If it turns out that the participants didn’t prepare the meeting and the actions weren’t fulfilled, just postpone the meeting to a later time when everyone is actually prepared. That is a specific but powerful intervention which shows once more, which norms and values are valid. Nevertheless, a tough decision for a chairman, mainly because all he wants is to make progress. A classic tradeoff between short and long term results. If you do decide to go ahead with the meeting, be careful; before you know it, a pattern is established and all of your meetings go this way.

Respect, Norms, Values & Behaviour

So keep in mind to “reward and punish”. Choosing whether to go ahead or not can go further than being practical for the meeting. Most of the time this is impacting the dynamics of the group and the individual. Who gets “rewarded” when the meeting is canceled and who is “punished”? Choose wisely.

Additionally, you could gain a lot of credits by using your colleagues time respectfully. By definition, time is limited and therefore valuable. Using one’s time wisely shows you respect this person. Chances are that if you don’t, this person will not be there when you really need him.

What Can I Do Right Now? Practical Tips

The checklist above can help you heaps if you are regularly organizing meetings. You can use the guidelines to determine if you should even hold a meeting or call an already planned meeting off. If all of your meetings have added value then go you! You are already doing a good job! Still, examine every single one closely.

Especially if you organize recurring meetings, simply evaluate the situation of other participants. How valuable is the meeting to them? Start a discussion and find out what they think and if there is any added value in them for other participants.
Even if you rarely organize any meetings and are most of the time only a participant, don’t stray away from voicing any concerns or any questions. By simply asking “what do you think is my purpose in this meeting?” you raise awareness that you don't see any direct purpose but you are still respecting the situation. You are solely pro-active and trying to start a constructive discussion for all participants. Nevertheless, you should prepare accordingly for each and every meeting to actually be able to add value to it yourself.

Happy Meetings!