Is a Meeting Even Necessary? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions First

Does it feel like your job has become one long meeting? When did your role become reduced to travelling from one meeting to the next? Do you spend hours sitting in board rooms? Behind the wheel? Or trying to get some shut-eye on a plane as you dart from one city to the next?

If so, it might be time to consider whether all of these meetings are necessary. With the emergence of video calling, conference call software, and instant messaging, it is easy to slash the volume of meetings without losing out on critical interaction. A staggering 33.4% of meetings feel unproductive to those involved. Take back your work life by being more discerning over the meetings you arrange and attend.

These are the nine questions to ask to determine if your meeting is absolutely essential. If it is necessary, then get on your preferred meeting room booking software to reserve your space.

Does the meeting have a purpose?

If your meeting has no clear purpose or no specific outcome, chances are, it isn’t a valuable way to spend your time.

Can you make progress on the subject without outside input?

If you can still make progress on the project without the need for anybody else’s input, then it isn’t time for a meeting, it is time to do more work. Meetings are only really necessary when people need to come together in order to make progress on a specific task.

Can you convey the information in an email?

If the substance of the meeting can be conveyed in an email and does not require a full discussion, then you don’t need to spend time sitting in a meeting room.

How important is the subject matter?

For highly important matters, it might make sense to have a face-to-face meeting. In these meetings, you have the advantage of reading body language that may be lost over the phone or during video conferences. You can also ensure that the other party is ‘present’ and not distracted by something else while on the phone.

Is it a discussion or instruction?

Discussions require the participation of two or more people. They require interaction where speaking will be distributed somewhat evenly as every participant shares their ideas of opinions. Instructions do not require a back and forth. One person needs to give the instructions, while another needs to listen.

Instructions often lend themselves to more impersonal lines of communication, including phone conversations, emails, and instant messages. Discussions can sometimes benefit from the intimacy of a face-to-face meeting.

What would be the consequences of not holding the meeting?

If you are still unsure of whether or not you really need to hold a meeting, spend a minute to consider the implications of not doing it. Would important information be missed? Would coworkers simply find another way to get that information to you effectively? If so, then maybe that would be a more efficient way to proceed.

Is now the best time to hold the meeting?

Even if you have determined that a meeting is the best course of action, it might not necessarily be the best time to hold one. If you have not fully considered all sides of the subject and are not prepared to discuss the issue at length, it may be more productive if you hold the meeting at a later date. That way the discussion can be more substantive and the outcomes more valuable than a meeting held prematurely.

How long does the meeting need to be?

Another way to reduce the time spent in meetings is to abandon the preconceived notion that all meetings must be an hour long. Each meeting should be as long as it needs to achieve preset outcomes. Some meetings can be cleared away in 15 minutes. Reducing the length of each meeting is one way to ensure maximum productivity.

Do you have an out?

If you aren’t sure of the value of a meeting but are pushing ahead anyway, it can be useful to have an out. This is a way of leaving the meeting for something specific if you feel like the meeting has exhausted its usefulness. Scheduling meetings back to back is one way of making sure you always have a set time limit and can leave the meeting as soon as it stops being productive.

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