10 Reasons Your Meeting Is Going to Be a Waste of Time

We have all been to that meeting.

You know, the one that was a complete waste of time.

We weren’t sure why we were there. What we were doing.

Or even if we accomplished anything.

Was that your meeting?

Meeting or Waste of Time?

Meetings are the scourge of many companies’ ability to be productive.

They interrupt productive employees.

They tie up expensive resources. (You didn’t think meetings were free, did you?)

And they zap employee morale.

Over half of corporate meetings would be better served by other methods.

Calling people into a room and shutting the door isn’t going to get work done.

To add insult to injury, most meetings are not just non-productive, but a downright waste of your employees time.

Why Are We Meeting Again?

I would hazard a guess that most people have never been taught how to hold a proper meeting. (Where was the college class on that?)

Yet, most companies allow anyone in the organization to call a meeting almost at will.

And thus, most meetings are destined to be a mess right out of the gate.

Here are 10 Reasons Your Meeting is Going to Be a Waste of Time:

  1. You Have No Agenda – You do have a reason for calling the meeting, right? And a list of items to be addressed? The majority of meetings have no agenda. They end up being a flowing stream of random ideas from whomever called the get-together. And of course, a complete waste of everyone’s time.
  2. You Called it Last Minute – Want to make sure your meeting is chaotic? Send out your meeting invite mere hours (or minutes!) before the meeting. This is also a great way for senior leaders to demotivate their employees by jerking around their schedules.
  3. You Are Not Prepared – Your presentation is not ready. You are still printing handouts. And of course, see #1.
  4. None of Your Attendees are Prepared – If you haven’t given adequate notice, agenda, or materials to your attendees, how can you expect them to show up ready to provide value to the discussion? I am always amazed when I show up to a meeting and the organizer asks if we have reviewed the documents. “Um, you just sent them out 15 minutes ago.”
  5. Wrong Time – Unfortunately, I cannot tell you when the best meeting time at your organization is. You will have to determine that. But, I can tell you when the wrong time is… right after lunch. (Different people eat at different times, so avoid early afternoon.) Or extremely early or late. Do not assume that everyone arrives or departs at the same time. Just because you are staying til 7PM doesn’t mean that the teammate who beat you to the office by 3 hours will be there that late.
  6. Not a Good Location – I have seen many a meeting that was undone simply by its location. A small conference room with an army huddled in it. Or a boardroom, with 3 people in it. When it comes to meeting space you need “just enough.” Not more. Not less.
  7. No Action is Going to Be Taken – The worst meetings are the ones where nothing happens. No decisions are made. No follow-up items are designated. And really, nothing happens after the meeting. Attendees leave wondering why they were even there.
  8. Wrong People – Most meetings have the wrong people. You would think this is a simple matter, inviting the right people. But, most meetings have too many people. And many meeting organizers are guilty of inviting people who are not even involved with the issue at hand, just to reassure themselves. Invite the bare number of people needed.
  9. Decision Makers Not Present – A follow-up to #8, is that you do not have the decision makers present in your meeting then it is probably not worth having. If no one present is authorized to make a decision, then you are really just taking a survey of opinions.
  10. Wasn’t Really a Meeting – Ever been to a meeting that was really was a 1-on-1 conversation between two people? Everyone else sits around wondering why they are in the room. Or perhaps, the information being communicated would have been better served by an email or phone call. Make sure you are using the correct medium before calling a meeting.

Don’t Call That Meeting

Before you schedule that next meeting take a minute to reconsider.

Is it really necessary? Do you need all those people present? Would everyone be better served by a different option?

So, do everyone a favor and cancel that meeting.

Just be sure to send out the cancellation notice more than 5 minutes in advance.

Question: What meeting mistakes does your company make?

7 thoughts on “10 Reasons Your Meeting Is Going to Be a Waste of Time

  1. My favorite one is no action is going to be taken. At one company I worked, I literally sat and listened to the marketing team discuss the air conditioner in the office. It drove me nuts. I think the idea of meeting for the sake of meeting is also ridiculous. Action items are key. 

  2. We have a weekly status meeting where 15 people update the manager on “what they’ve been working on”. Nothing gets accomplished, no action items, no agenda. It is an incredibly painful 90 minutes. Luckily this week’s meeting was canceled. (the cancellation was sent out 50 minutes after the proposed start of the meeting)

  3. Argh, YES! I’ve been on meetings where the main decision-maker and the one who called the meeting started things off by saying, “So… what exactly are we meeting about today?”

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