The Meeting Gauntlet

Surprisingly, no one I have ever worked with has canceled a meeting unless there was a significant attendance issue. Meetings have inertia that people seem afraid to impede as if the default position of the working universe is to have meetings.

I argue that the opposite is true.

Meetings are the last resort, a solution to a specific problem that can not be solved any other way. Meetings are when people need to talk out loud in real-time to discuss a topic. Only when all other forms of communication have failed should we break the glass and access the meeting button.

You might assume that my anti-meeting stance means I am anti-social or against collaboration. I don’t believe I am. However, I am against using the wrong tool for the job.

Purpose of Meetings

The point of getting a room full of people together is to solve a problem. The problem is not that you have free time to fill on your calendar. You can’t get people together just because it’s the first Monday of the month, and that’s when you have your meetings. Your meeting must be focused on a specific problem that the attendees can solve.

That problem could be: a system you need to design, a policy that must be debated, a physical item to make, an event to plan, etc.

That problem can’t be: updates to share, make some announcements, highlight some successes, spotlight some data, etc.

These are important things to share, but a meeting is not the right tool for the job. Send out emails, record a YouTube video, post in a Slack channel, write a blog post; there are tons of asynchronous ways to share this important information broadly. Just don’t have a meeting to do it.

Closure

If you only meet when necessary and start treating meetings as action-oriented events that people need to actively participate in, your attendees will respond accordingly. People won’t dread shlepping down to the meeting room; they will be excited to participate in change.

Our information sharing tool kit has never been more robust; start using the best one for the job.

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