How many times have you been in this situation? You’re working away at your desk, in the zone and unwilling to be disturbed by anyone when you get a reminder about a meeting that’s going to happen in 5 minutes? Or it’s kind of a dull day where you can’t really focus on anything when you get that welcome meeting notification that gives you some respite?

Either way, a meeting serves as a distraction whether it’s welcome or not. But how productive are they? Do you gain something out of those weekly team meetings or is it just an excuse to waste some time before getting back to work?

So what makes a meeting effective?

Being concise

Studies show that having short meetings with a clear agenda provides more value than long, drawling ones. Long meetings serve more as a time-buster than anything else. So before you schedule that meeting, make sure the duration is acceptable i.e. ends before our attention span does.

What’s your agenda?

Unless it’s a brainstorming session where you hope to get better ideas at the end of it, make sure you’re clear about what you want to gain at the meeting. Even if it’s a brainstorming session, be absolutely sure that no decisions will be made at that time. So the next time you schedule a meeting, be clear on the agenda so whoever you invite will know if they need to attend it. There’s no point in inviting the CEO for a brainstorming session on items on the lunch menu.

Travelling is a waste of time (unless absolutely needed)

Whether it’s a local branch-to-branch commute or an hour’s flight away, don’t invite people for meetings unless it’s absolutely vital for them to be there. For a meeting that will last one hour, the person has to travel back and forth, effectively wasting 3-4 hours of his time. It will be easier to video conference that person in and only have him commute on the final, decision-making meeting. Even before you schedule a video conference, ask yourself: is it really necessary?

Timing is important

Is it the right time to schedule the meeting? If you’re halfway through a project without having any idea about its progress, then a status update meeting is necessary. But if you’ve just finalized on a few details and are constantly updated on emails about its progress, do you really need that session? You’ll be disrupting a lot of people’s work just to know what you already know. Think about it.

This little chart can help you decide if a meeting is really necessary:


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