A Meeting about a Meeting about a Meeting

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How much of your working week do you spend in meetings? How much of that time spent sat in a meeting do you spend staring out of the window or thinking about what you are going to have for dinner?

Nearly half of all employees consider meetings to be a waste of time and when you consider that collectively you could be spending hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in meetings a year, it has massive cost implications as well. It isn’t just the time actually sat in a room staring at a powerpoint presentation but you also have to consider the preparation time and the discussions that follow.


What can you do?

The first thing to consider is if you actually need to be there in the first place. If you need to be kept in the loop but don’t need to know the technical details, decline the invite but request the minutes are emailed to you.

How long should it last?

An hour is the absolute maximum, any longer than that and engagement will drop off. Many companies aim for half an hour, with some sticking to just fifteen minutes. However long you choose make sure you start & finish on time. According to Parkinsons law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion“. If you finish early don’t feel you have to fill the time – leave.

What to discuss?

Stay focused on the agenda. Don’t let people wonder off topic, Steve may have had a great holiday but it isn’t relevant. Also don’t get too drawn into the minutiae, talking about coding to non technical people will send them to sleep.

Be prepared

What was discussed at the last meeting – check the minutes.
Look at the agenda – what questions are you likely to be asked?

When should you hold it?

On Monday mornings people are still drowsy from their weekend. On Friday afternoons people are more interested in discussing their plans for the weekends. According to a survey, Tuesday afternoon at 3pm is the best time to hold a meeting. Find what works best for you but don’t just call a meeting because “you always have one on Wednesday“. Only do it if there is something to discuss.


Note the actions, owners and due dates. Keep them brief and send them out by the next day – many staff won’t actually start to implement them until they are in their inbox.

How do you feel about meetings where you work?

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