3 Essential Reasons to Hold a Meeting

A Framework for Minimizing Meeting Volume and Maximizing Meeting Relevance

Design Team Planning for a New ProjectTo state the obvious—most meetings are a waste of time.

What’s less obvious—how to minimize meetings.

One solution—only get people together in the same room when there’s a valuable reason for it. (I know, I know… this sounds like common sense. But if you work in a corporation, you know how infrequently such “common sense” is followed.)

A Framework to Follow

For the next month, forget about the other problems of meetings—too many people invited, the wrong people forced to be there, the whole thing taking too long— and just make sure the meetings you host are actually worth hosting. To help you make this distinction, ask yourself the following question before you hit “send” on your next set of meeting invites:

Will this meeting…

Provide essential information?

  • eg: It’s part of an important reporting schedule.
  • eg: It’s an emergency scenario your team members or stakeholders need to know about.
  • eg: There’s essential information you need to receive and discuss that will contribute to a decision you’re making.

Open up communication that’s needed to move the project forward?

  • eg: There’s an information bottleneck keeping you from finalizing a course of action.
  • eg: You need to discuss an issue with your boss or stakeholders so they can move forward with their plans.
  • eg: You need to give or receive sign-off, and this sign-off needs to occur in person.

Set new project definitions?

  • eg: A project’s gone off-course.
  • eg: You’re unclear whether you’re still on the same page as your stakeholder.
  • eg: Something’s changed on your end that impacts actions your boss, stakeholder or team members are planning to take.

If your meeting fulfills one of these larger criteria—or looks a whole lot like one of these examples—then chances are it’s legit. Go ahead and press “send.” (Though first add a little text to your invitation explaining which of these criteria the meeting needs to fulfill. Trust me on this—take the extra minute to make the meeting’s purpose clear to everyone. Your boss, stakeholders, and team-members like to know they aren’t going to show up and just spin their wheels for 90 minutes.)

But if your meeting does not fulfill any of these larger criteria, and doesn’t even remotely resemble these examples, then the meeting you were about to subject everyone too probably served no real purpose. Move your mouse away from the “send” button, and hover it right over “delete message,” and click. Crisis averted!

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