Should You Cancel Your Next Meeting?
Meetings get scheduled for lots of reasons, some profound, some silly, and some are just rituals without meaning. While meetings are sometimes necessary, poorly conceived or poorly managed meetings can be a monumental waste of time.
Most people find badly run meetings extremely frustrating, but I’m not like most people; I’m a consultant and I bill my time by the hour. I don't enjoy sitting in dull or pointless meetings, but if I get bored, I can daydream about how I’m going to spend the money I’m earning while sitting there.
One of my clients is particularly judicious about only scheduling necessary meetings. They generally start them on time. They have an agenda. Materials are sent out far enough before the meeting that participants have time to review them. There is minimal small talk and no posturing.Participants in the meetings I attend for this client usually include the chief executive and her deputy. They are busy, hard-working, and smart people. Their time is precious, and staff preparing to meet with them respect their time.
The meeting scheduled for this afternoon was the only thing on my calendar today (it’s a light week). I slept in, ran some errands, and played with my grandson for an hour, then came home to prepare for the meeting. Prep only took about fifteen minutes because I’m familiar with the project and the materials were very focused:
- A couple of charts with annotations explaining the breakdown of a contract agreement
- A page and a half of bullet points outlining the team’s analysis and recommendation
The purpose of the meeting was to answer any questions the executives had about the materials or the project and either confirm or amend the team’s recommendation.
An hour before the meeting, my cell phone rang. A senior team member was letting me know that the meeting would be canceled.
“What happened?” I asked. “Did they review the materials and decide they were good with the recommendation?”
“Yup,” came the response. “The execs reached out to us to find out if we had any concerns that we needed to discuss, and we didn’t, so we decided cancel the meeting.”
I assured him that I was good with the cancellation. I then sat down to write this article.
When was the last time a meeting you were scheduled to attend was canceled for the right reasons? When was the last time a meeting was canceled because people did their homework, reviewed the purpose of the meeting beforehand, and decided getting everyone in a room wasn’t a good use of anyone’s time? Don’t you wish that would happen more often? Maybe it’s something you could do.