How many meetings are too many meetings?

03/24/2019

You look on your agenda and you have a meeting almost everyday. You check your email and you have another bunch of emails with the word “meeting” on the subject. This is a common view for most of us in a busy office life.

It is also common that we finish a meeting and on the way back to our work we wonder why on earth that meeting was set on the first place.

When a meeting is not productive or efficient we all end up with a feeling of unaccomplishment and a sense of wasting our time.

Meetings are obviously a necessary way of communication, and they can be extremely useful, and we say CAN if we organize the right meetings about the right things and with the right people involved.

To answer the question, essentially, we have too many meetings when we feel it’s too much and most of them are not productive.

In order to make sure that we are scheduling and attending the right meetings, we have come up with a few advices and tips to keep in mind every time a new meeting comes up.

If you are organizing the meeting:

  1. Wonder if the reason to organize the meeting can be solved with an email or a quick talk with someone in particular. Many times meetings could be solved in a couple of emails.
  2. Check twice who is invited to attend the meeting and whether or not each one of those people’s presence is highly needed. This responds to two reasons. First it is definitely not good and not professional to make people lose time. Secondly the more people we have involved in a meeting the longer it will become. More people means more opinions and more questions, because most likely not all of them will be fully updated on the subject.
  3. Don’t organize informative meetings unless you are planning to use it to connect with your team. Any information can be shared through an email or a official communication. Now if people have questions we can always organize a meeting to clarify issues once everyone has gone through the new information and had time to dig into it and have specific questions about it.
  4. Be mindful with people’s availability. Unless the meeting is extremely urgent, do try to make it work with people’s schedules before setting an specific time.
  5. Make sure that everyone attending the meeting has all the necessary information and documents ahead of the meeting so they can prepare it (and maybe even solve the issue ahead and therefore avoid the meeting). So with your meeting proposal email, send attach all the documents that will be involved in the next meeting.

If you are invited to the meeting.

  1. Request an agenda for the meeting and make sure that your presence is necessary
  2. Read the agenda carefully and consider if maybe you might have a solution or some extra information that could either solve the need of a meeting or maybe not need you right there.
  3. Even if they insist in your presence, consider the amount of meetings and work to do that you have around that time and prioritize your obligations.
  4. If you feel like too many meetings are organized in your team, raise your hand and propose a change, maybe a limited length or a different strategy to approach pending issues, from the use of emails that we were mentioning before to other sharing information tools and apps that might ease the communication process.