Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Just in case you missed it, Zoom recently announced that they were discontinuing the practice of “no meeting Wednesdays” at their offices. Yep, despite studies that show “no meeting days” were very popular and resulted in greater employee productivity, Zoom decided to stop the practice. Not exactly sure why … but it does make me wonder.
Business meetings are the bane of our professional lives. I recently saw an article on LinkedIn saying that about 30% of our time is in meetings. That’s a pretty significant number. Some companies are trying to reduce the amount of time spent in meetings by attaching rules or guidelines to them. For example, the Zoom practice of abolishing meetings on Wednesdays. I can’t help but think they’re in essence saying, “Schedule the meeting on a different day.” Meaning, they really aren’t impacting the amount of time in meetings. They’re just taking one day off the meeting schedule.
These rules or guidelines don’t fix the real issue. The way to fix the problem with business meetings is to run better meetings. Starting with the reason a meeting should be scheduled in the first place. The definition of meeting is “a coming together of two or more people, by chance or arrangement.” People will still get together to accomplish stuff. That’s a meeting. I’ve never heard a person complain about a meeting that was essential. Granted they might complain about the way it was conducted. We can save that discussion for another day. But as a general rule, people do not complain when the reason for scheduling the meeting is legit. And they will always complain if the meeting was called and could have been handled with an email.
In my experience, there are only three reasons to hold a meeting.
- The first reason to hold a meeting is to provide information. Those regularly scheduled department meetings are a perfect example. The purpose of those meetings is to provide information. The reason they’re so dreaded is because, even when there’s nothing to convey, the meeting still happens.
Same with networking meetings. These are useful, valuable opportunities that participants should covet. Despite what someone says, those synergy calls when one person talks the entire time are not networking meetings. They’re really sales presentations.
Brainstorming meetings are another type of meeting designed to provide information. Brainstorming often gets a bad rap because people use the time to also evaluate ideas, which is contrary to the whole brainstorming concept.
- The second reason to hold a meeting is to make decisions. One of the most important decision making business meetings is strategic planning. The organization is developing their goals and direction. Other types of decision making meeting are pitch meetings, where individuals or organizations are pitching their ideas and project meetings, where groups are tasked with accomplishing a goal or task.
- The last reason to hold a meeting is to allow for feedback and discussion. Before you ask, I do view feedback a bit different than information. Feedback is a reaction to a product or performance used to ultimately create improvement. The first type of feedback meeting that comes to mind is the focus group. Whether it’s internal or external, focus groups are completely about providing feedback.
Employee coaching meetings are another form of feedback meeting. It can be to tell an employee they’re doing well or to share concerns. But it’s a meeting. There’s also training meetings. When training is done properly, it’s about creating a safe environment where individuals can learn, practice, and receive feedback.
We’re not going to eliminate business meetings. But that doesn’t mean we have to attend bad ones. One of the best skills to have as a working professional is the ability to run a good business meeting. Employees who have this skill will be able to gather groups and engage their talents. The first step is knowing when to call the meeting.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL43