To Meet or Not to Meet

I hadn't intended to blog about meetings, but since I've seen so many articles this past week about whether to meet or not to meet, I decided to chime in.

Given that time is money and a meeting is money and time multiplied by how many people are sitting around a conference table (or on a conference line), a meeting is only a good thing if it helps you come to a decision quicker.

To help decide whether a meeting will actually be beneficial, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this meeting? What is the outcome I'm hoping for?
  2. How many people are necessary for this outcome? And is there anything gained by all of them being in the same room (or on the same conference line)? Can this be done just as easily via a well-written e-mail, poll, or company chat?
  3. If you actually need a conversation, who are the key people that absolutely need to be there? Who else only needs to be informed afterwards?
  4. What can you plan and provide prior to the meeting to make every minute as productive as possible? What can you do after the meeting to ensure follow-through happens and another meeting won't be necessary?
And once you decide to meet—
  1. send out an invite with all relevant information (time zone, location, instructions);
  2. if you don't have an agenda ready when the invite goes out, be sure to send one at least a day prior to the meeting and include all roles, if they are not obvious (e.g., who is running the meeting; who is required to have what information);
  3. be sure to keep track of time during the meeting and leave time for questions and next-step recap; 
  4. and send out meeting minutes within a day after the meeting.
The two types of meetings that I think are critical are one-on-ones with your direct reports and staff meetings for your entire team. The former can be cancelled by your direct report if they don't need it, but ensures they know they have access to you at least once a week. The latter means that you get to take your team's "temperature" and see how morale is, what they're worried about, what's working and what's not. Some things are more prone to come out in groups, while others in a one-on-one setting, so both are necessary.

Status and check-in meetings can be useful, but I think nine out of ten times can be handled more efficiently with good dashboards and systems. 

Are there other meetings you think are necessary? 

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