Opinion: Don’t Let Meaningless Meetings Waste Your Time

I’m not a big fan of meetings.

Never have been.

When thinking about meetings the other day I came across some interesting quotes.

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.”

That’s humorist David Barry’s funny take on meetings. In humor, there is always some evidence of reality.

American economist Thomas Sowell is more blunt when it comes to meetings.

Here are a couple of quotes attributed to him.

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favour of holding meetings.”

Now, I’m not entirely opposed to meetings. Of course, they are a necessary part of communicating for any business environment.

My issue is way too many meetings I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of attending in my 40-year plus professional career are simply a complete waste of time with nothing really accomplished other than losing time you can never get back.

There are a few things that turn meetings into unproductive time wasters.

The first is calling a meeting just to have a meeting. There has to be a clear purpose for a meeting and that can be facilitated by drawing up a specific agenda of items that need to be discussed.


The problem I have found with meetings is that they can easily go astray as the discussion of an agenda item gets hijacked, moves in a totally different direction without any tie to the original point of discussion, and prolongs a meeting for a much longer period of time than it really should be.

Stay focused on your agenda.

The other issue I have with meetings is the more people invited to attend the longer it’s going to be. It’s only natural. The more voices in a meeting that want to share their point of view the longer that meeting is going to take. The problem is that some of those voices really shouldn’t be invited to some of those meetings because they’re not truly involved in a direct way with the items that need to be discussed.

The final issue I have with meetings is this. An old friend of mine used to have a favourite line he would utter all the time. “Lots of talk, no action.” I have discovered this over the years with many meetings. Too many meetings simply talk about the same subjects over and over and over again. And nothing ever gets resolved. For a meeting to be effective, it must have actionable steps coming out of the discussions otherwise there really is no point in having a meeting. None.

If a meeting is called to provide people information about something, then there are other ways of communication that can do that without having a meeting and wasting people’s time.

Time is probably the most valuable resource we have these days. Time lost is time you can never get back.

Don’t waste it on meaningless and ineffective meetings.

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