The best ways to avoid those useless work meetings


“In my experience, it’s the least productive people who are most in favour of holding work meetings, ” says the US economist Thomas Sewell. “People who enjoy work meetings should never be put in charge of anything.”

If you’re someone who prefers doing stuff rather than talking about stuff, then you’ll know exactly what Mr Sewell is talking about.

For you, that extra work meeting isn’t a welcome chance to slack off and kill a few hours of the day. Instead, it’s an unnecessary inconvenience preventing you from focusing on the important work.

Sound familiar? 

Well, you’re not alone. 

Those ‘meetings about the meeting’ are a major pain point for many busy professionals who take their job responsibilities seriously.

A third of professionals say they waste up to five hours a week in meetings that provide no real value. And over 60% believe that too many meetings are a major productivity killer. They’re not wrong. Research suggests that putting work meeting resources to better use could boost some national economies by $40billion a year. 

We need to end those useless meetings. And can help. Its researchers gathered data from leading business websites and online resources to create a  complete guide to making sure you only attend meetings that matter. 

It’s the perfect resource to share with your team or those micromanaging bosses that love a morning AND afternoon huddle. So unnecessary. “I’m doing great, thanks. Now can I get back to my work!??” We’ve all been there.

The guide includes a decision tree for answering the first (and most important) question: do we have to hold this meeting? 

It works for deciding on zoom call catch-ups or IRL (in real life) work meetings.

Follow it the next you’re thinking about getting your team together. It could save you a few precious hours per week. Or slip in a few of the questions when your boss starts firing out emails about everybody’s availability for another ‘big announcement.’  How often do they turn out to be another waste of your time? A lot. The answer is a lot. 

Meetings are part of corporate life. A necessary evil, if you like. The trick is to make the meetings that you do hold really count. It’s simple: more productive meetings equals fewer meetings.

That’s why added an extra section covering the do’s and don’ts of running a successful meeting. 

It includes some ‘quick wins’ you can implement right now, such as using virtual communications like Slack or Microsoft Teams. 

There’s a section on the importance of setting a meeting agenda beforehand. A meeting without a plan will only create more meetings

And it explains why even the most casual meetings need structure and clearly defined ground rules, i.e. no pyjamas or pets allowed on Zoom calls. Working from home is not an excuse for dropping professional standards. They should be maintained at all times. Or at least when everyone else can see you.

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