Preventing the Meeting About The Meeting

I recently got invited to a “pre-meeting.”

Oh… that sounded exciting for a moment.

What’s a pre-meeting?

Um, no.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be just what you might think… a meeting to prepare for another meeting.


Prepare to Prepare!

One of the top reasons that meetings are unproductive is that people fail to prepare for them.

They show up not know what is going to be discussed, not having read the materials, and unready to make decisions.

I have seen a disturbing trend lately, which is the pre-meeting.

In other words, because individuals are not ready for the meeting… they have another meeting to get ready.

Your lack of effort should not create more work for the rest of us…

Why the “Meeting Before the Meeting” happens:

– Because the last meeting didn’t accomplish anything
– Because you want to talk to someone
– Because you haven’t done the work
– Because you wanted to commiserate with others

Do the Work

Most pre-meetings happen because people are not doing the work.

Of 6 attendees at a recent pre-meeting, 5 readily admitted that they had done no work to get ready for the meeting.

Instead of having a pre-meeting, you could:

  • Use the Time to Do the Work – Skip the meeting and instead use the time to do the work required.
  • Touch Base Individually – Let the individuals who need to connect do so, without locking the entire team in a room.
  • Stop Shooting the Breeze – Most pre-meetings deteriorate in a gab session. Leave the chit-chat until after the work is done.
  • Maintain Perspective – Most pre-meetings are last-minute and become so tactically focused that the big picture is lost. Keep the end goal in mind, rather than putting on the appearance of progress.

Less Meeting More Doing

Meetings take enough time out of the day.

“Meetings about meetings” are just plain silly.

So, let’s do the work and just skip the meeting.

Question: Does your organization have meetings to prepare for meetings?

8 thoughts on “Preventing the Meeting About The Meeting

  1. We are the “meeting-est” place in the world.  A few years ago we actually scheduled a weekly meeting on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for a weekly Wednesday morning conference call.  I currently have 18 hours of meetings or conference calls SCHEDULED for this week, most of which are related to project updates or activities.  One of the worst experiences are conference calls with Asia as they never seem to be productive and our Engineer does most of the talking.  A lot of these are CYA type meetings that my DIRECTOR thinks we should attend.  The issue seems to be that there are a lot of people afraid to make decisions and the feeling is that by consensus, there is less responsibility.  Of course, if we didn’t all get together, someone would complain about being left out of the process.  What’s the solution????  🙂

  2. When I worked for a company that started having meetings about meetings, I knew it was time to look for another job, as if the Monday morning “motivational” meetings weren’t bad enough…

  3. I work at a church. We JUST started having morning pre-staff meeting meetings. It causes our afternoon staff meeting to let out a bit earlier but we’re still in meetings longer throughout the day than we used to be. It’s a bit annoying to have my entire Monday wrapped up in a meeting I’ll have about ten minutes worth of input in.

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