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RANT All Meetings Are A Vain Waste Of Time - No Exceptions!

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Have you ever been in a meeting that couldn't have been done over email or the phone?


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Roli

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Bored? Lonely? Simply can't be bothered to work? Why not hold a meeting?! It will make you seem busy and feel important, whilst achieving absolutely nothing whatsoever! Hooray!


Arrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!! I'm so angry right now, I knew it, I told him as much. Why do you want me there?

What will we discuss?

What's the end goal of this meeting?

It's important that you're there!

You need to meet the team!

There's a lot of money on the table!

Seriously, I am never, and I mean NEVER, going to another meeting as long as I live, unless I'm being paid to be there, or it's with the Queen or something, and even then...

I've just wasted over four hours of my life, travelling to, sitting in, and returning from a meeting that could have been summed up in either five emails, or a five minute phone call.

The only good that has come from this, is that I now have that policy in place...

Hey Roli, can we have a meeting about XYZ?

Is there anything about XYZ that cannot be summed up in five back 'n' forth emails, or a five minute phone call?

Erm, I guess not.

Great, well let's do that instead then!

Has there ever been a productive meeting in the history of meetings? Is there ANY reason to EVER have a meeting?

If so, please, pretty please with dainty little cherries on top, enlighten me.

- rant just about over :-(
 

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jon.M

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I have a hard time with meetings, especially the ones that could finish in 5 minutes... but don't.

Heard somewhere that a leader decided to hold meetings in a flourescent, tight hallway to keep it all as (uncomfortable) and concise as possible.
 

Xeon

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I HATE meetings with a passion.

Every time a colleague / boss calls for a team meeting, I feel so sick inside that I feel like puking.
Even if it's an informal meeting, there's usually a lot of indecisiveness, dragging things back and forth, occasional awkward silences.

The worst meetings are those whereby, we're supposed to discuss work and then go back to doing our stuff, but somehow, the topics slowly drift....and change....and the key guys in the meeting start talking about other employees or gossip-stuff. f*ck!

The average meeting in most companies can be cut and condensed to 15 mins or less. If it can't, something is wrong.
The longer the meeting drags on (without a definitive time), the more un-necessary work gets loaded on employees as a result of the meeting. Time and energy gets drained.

I suspect folks who always call for meetings, just want to pass time so the clock strikes 5.30 PM faster, then they can pack their bags and leave.
 

Eskil

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Omg... lol, meetings were the bane of my existence when I had a job. They were the most useless, sleep-inducing, and wasteful use of everyone's time. Let's sit around for 1-2 hours, 3-4 times a WEEK and discuss shit that we could easily have sorted out in a group chat or a few emails..... For f*cks sake... :inpain:

Actually the one thing I am thankful for those meetings for is that they helped inspire me to want to get OUT of the working world. I remember sitting in meetings and being in my own world, thinking of business ideas, doodling product concepts, etc. lol.
 

Kruiser

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At my last job we had tons of meetings. Huge meetings (like 20 people) for products and projects. Totally unnecessary. Virtually everyone (well, at least the productive people) would just bring their laptops, tune out, and work on other stuff during the meetings.
 

therealmark

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meetings can be amazing. I host a 5-15 minute meeting every day with my employees.
I know that is my chance to lay out policies and address issues. They know that is their chance to bring up anything that concerns them.

We also hold a 1 hour meeting each week to go over goals and milestones and discuss progress for the week.

After that no more meetings. People like to use meetings to escape shitty jobs and avoid boring work that doesn’t drive them. Shitty, inefficient meetings are a symptom of a bigger issue in the organization.
 

404profound

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meetings can be amazing. I host a 5-15 minute meeting every day with my employees.
I know that is my chance to lay out policies and address issues. They know that is their chance to bring up anything that concerns them.

We also hold a 1 hour meeting each week to go over goals and milestones and discuss progress for the week.

After that no more meetings. People like to use meetings to escape shitty jobs and avoid boring work that doesn’t drive them. Shitty, inefficient meetings are a symptom of a bigger issue in the organization.
Never thought about that last part... really good point.
 

JAJT

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We had a 1 hour sales meeting every Monday at my last job.

In a room we put our head of marketing, head of engineering, head of sales and myself (I was a sort of "swing" sales guy who typically touched most opportunities across the team).

In that meeting we went through the entire sales pipe for the company. Every opportunity by every sales person was put front and center with the question "what can we do to move this forward?"

Every week we uncovered at least a dozen ways to help out the sales team and move the opportunities forward (we're talking 6-7-8 figure opportunities). Sometimes marketing put together pitch decks. Sometimes engineering was tasked to figure out capabilities, sometimes sales had to decide on discount amounts or give a blessing for this and that, and I gave context/status for many opportunities since the rest of the sales team wasn't included (they were all around the world).

Everyone with decision making authority for the company was in that room and we flexed that decision making muscle every week. They need something that's never been done before? Engineering is on it. They need to convince their boss? Marketing is on it. They need a discount or bundle or tiered pricing structure? Sales was there. Someone in the company dropped the ball? We picked that ball back up.

One of the most profitable meetings I've ever been part of. It was AMAZING how much money was falling through the cracks or left on the vine to die when all it needed was someone to look at it and say "what do we need to do to close this?"

So while I generally dislike meetings - I would absolutely say they have an extremely valuable place and purpose.
 

Andy Black

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“Things don’t get done after meetings, they get done before meetings.” (Blaise Brosnan)


Maybe that’s the purpose of meetings? To make people get stuff done before them.


I’ve sat through my fair share of crap meetings.

I’ve also sat through good ones where having the techies in the room with a whiteboard gets things hammered out that would be impossible via email or messaging.

I should hold regular meetings (calls) with my small team just so we’re all on the same page. I let those meetings meander because I’m trying to get across all the things that are going on, where my head is at, and where I want to go. Sometimes a group call is the best way to do that, rather than email.
 

Eskil

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meetings can be amazing. I host a 5-15 minute meeting every day with my employees.
Very valid point, and we can't generalize and say ALL meetings are inherently bad. I do think they serve a purpose if done right. But the problem is, in most / almost all mid to large size companies, they are just a big timewaste, and a way to SEEM productive.

Execution is really the problem. If done right, like you said - short format, concentrated effort, a clear agenda and summary and then go back to work - yeah that can definitely be a good thing.
 

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B. Cole

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I use a once a week Operations meeting with my day job team, bring all their butts to a table at 7am Thursday mornings and hammer out schedules, coordinate projects we have going on and get updates so we can pivot and keep stuff rolling. We’d be an unorganized, back and forth in the hallway mess without it, but I’m talking coordinating the efforts of 180 HVAC, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, paint, custodian, storeroom and administrative personnel. In this dynamic I need the meeting so my shop supervisors are accountable for weekly progress (people move their a$$ when they have to explain their progress to their boss in front of all their peers).

In my fastlane venture, I’m meeting with the factory manufacturing my product on Monday to do a dry run of the first finished unit, and to make any notes or changes to the specifications based on how it goes. I feel this is pretty important.

The other day the Joint Emergy Committee I’m on was meeting with a single speaker from out of town on something I can’t remember. I blew that off, it’s a sales pitch, of absolutely no value to the operation of my department. Sometimes it’s something good, like a team that claimed they could optimize the programming of any building’s HVAC equipment and save 20-30 percent on the energy usage. Turns out they were right - we gave them a freshly commissioned building running at peak, and they reprogrammed it, maintained temperature setpoints and blew our efficiency out of the water - we saved $43k in energy usage in a handful of months.

Depends on the purpose of the meeting and whether someone is controlling it well. I always present an agenda well in advance, and it is only things we need to go into deep thought about together. Sometimes I’ll grab a few of my team members for a quick, spur of the moment pow-wow when something happens that changes the course of a large coordinated effort so we can hammer out a new direction.

No meetings to answer simple questions. That’s what urinals are for.
 

Thomas Baptiste

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From my experience meetings are a double edged sword. The company I work for holds a mandatory 30 minute meeting at the start of every workday. Its actually a really efficient time in terms of finding out the status of company operations overall, and gives the manager a time to motivate staff and remind them of the company vision. The daily time wasting however can be horrendous. These meetings take up 10 hours a month. That 10 hours could surely be reduced, and time reallocated to making actual sales.
 

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We had a 1 hour sales meeting every Monday at my last job.

In a room we put our head of marketing, head of engineering, head of sales and myself (I was a sort of "swing" sales guy who typically touched most opportunities across the team).

In that meeting we went through the entire sales pipe for the company. Every opportunity by every sales person was put front and center with the question "what can we do to move this forward?"

Every week we uncovered at least a dozen ways to help out the sales team and move the opportunities forward (we're talking 6-7-8 figure opportunities). Sometimes marketing put together pitch decks. Sometimes engineering was tasked to figure out capabilities, sometimes sales had to decide on discount amounts or give a blessing for this and that, and I gave context/status for many opportunities since the rest of the sales team wasn't included (they were all around the world).

Everyone with decision making authority for the company was in that room and we flexed that decision making muscle every week. They need something that's never been done before? Engineering is on it. They need to convince their boss? Marketing is on it. They need a discount or bundle or tiered pricing structure? Sales was there. Someone in the company dropped the ball? We picked that ball back up.

One of the most profitable meetings I've ever been part of. It was AMAZING how much money was falling through the cracks or left on the vine to die when all it needed was someone to look at it and say "what do we need to do to close this?"

So while I generally dislike meetings - I would absolutely say they have an extremely valuable place and purpose.
Solid post - good to see what is possible. I came on here to bash meetings but this has got me fired up instead!
 
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Roli

Roli

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Heard somewhere that a leader decided to hold meetings in a flourescent, tight hallway to keep it all as (uncomfortable) and concise as possible.
My kind of guy!!

The average meeting in most companies can be cut and condensed to 15 mins or less. If it can't, something is wrong.
Abso-flipping-lutely!

Actually the one thing I am thankful for those meetings for is that they helped inspire me to want to get OUT of the working world.
Yeah me too, then I get sucked into one when I'm working for myself, and it's even more painful because it's MY time being wasted.

This level of pain screams opportunity.. hmm
Unless you can invent a meeting aversion pill which makes the user notice all of the available alternatives, Trello, Asana, Google Chats, email, telephone, then we're all doomed forever.

Virtually everyone (well, at least the productive people) would just bring their laptops, tune out, and work on other stuff during the meetings.
Reminds me of me.

I host a 5-15 minute meeting every day with my employees.
I know that is my chance to lay out policies and address issues. They know that is their chance to bring up anything that concerns them.
Do you really need to lay out policies everyday? Pretty sure if you told me your policies today, I'd remember them next week. How many issues can come up in 24 hours?

#justsaying

We also hold a 1 hour meeting each week to go over goals and milestones and discuss progress for the week.
That's fine, though does Kevin really need to know what goals and milestones Joe has, do we really need an hour for that.

So while I generally dislike meetings - I would absolutely say they have an extremely valuable place and purpose.
On rare occasions, however I'd be prepared to bet a penny to a pound you could axe 95% of them in the coming year and you wouldn't notice.

Maybe that’s the purpose of meetings? To make people get stuff done before them.
This is another Andy B glasshopper moment. :)

I should hold regular meetings (calls) with my small team just so we’re all on the same page. I let those meetings meander because I’m trying to get across all the things that are going on, where my head is at, and where I want to go. Sometimes a group call is the best way to do that, rather than email.
Group call, Asana, Trello, or the like.

(people move their a$$ when they have to explain their progress to their boss in front of all their peers).
Or simply lie to cover up their incompetence.

The company I work for holds a mandatory 30 minute meeting at the start of every workday. Its actually a really efficient time in terms of finding out the status of company operations overall,
Does the status of company operations change that much in 24 hours? Could perhaps that 30 minutes per day (2.5 hours per week) be shortened to one hour every two weeks?

Hint: Yes it can.

Solid post - good to see what is possible. I came on here to bash meetings but this has got me fired up instead!
Glad to be of service! :)

---

[Rage mode disabled]
 

404profound

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My kind of guy!!



Abso-flipping-lutely!



Yeah me too, then I get sucked into one when I'm working for myself, and it's even more painful because it's MY time being wasted.



Unless you can invent a meeting aversion pill which makes the user notice all of the available alternatives, Trello, Asana, Google Chats, email, telephone, then we're all doomed forever.



Reminds me of me.



Do you really need to lay out policies everyday? Pretty sure if you told me your policies today, I'd remember them next week. How many issues can come up in 24 hours?

#justsaying



That's fine, though does Kevin really need to know what goals and milestones Joe has, do we really need an hour for that.



On rare occasions, however I'd be prepared to bet a penny to a pound you could axe 95% of them in the coming year and you wouldn't notice.



This is another Andy B glasshopper moment. :)



Group call, Asana, Trello, or the like.



Or simply lie to cover up their incompetence.



Does the status of company operations change that much in 24 hours? Could perhaps that 30 minutes per day (2.5 hours per week) be shortened to one hour every two weeks?

Hint: Yes it can.



Glad to be of service! :)

---

[Rage mode disabled]
(sorry I was too lazy to remove all the quote references)

Perhaps it's not a matter of convincing them they should use the alternative techs. Maybe they need something to help prevent the urge to schedule a meeting. The root cause issue is ultimately that people are making erroneous decisions that a meeting is needed; a false-positive. What if they had a way to prevent false-positives?
 

GPM

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I used to feel this way about meetings back when I was an employee at whatever large organization that I was a part of. Even the most productive meetings felt like they were just being done just for the sake of having one.

I used to host monthly meetings with the heads of a facility, and quarterly meetings with foremen. These were made out to be a big deal and I was always nervous going in to them as I was in charge of them, but they always ended up just the same old thing. Going through data and asking questions that had already been asked before. I would say that out of a 1-2 hour meeting, I fielded about 5 minutes of questions that would move us forward, the rest could have been done through emails or had been taken care of previously.

I also used to work for a quasi-judicial organization that was 50% industry owned and 50% government owned. Now THIS was just an insane amount of meetings. I am talking meetings to figure out other meetings. In a 40 hour week we probably had 10-15 hours of meetings on average. I would host industry once a year over the course of a week, they would come in and present to me on their projects that fell into my wheel-house. This week was 100% taken up by meetings that were 100% useless. They involved so many man hours by industry involving dozens of engineers per meeting. I can't even imagine the cost to industry in wages. These meetings were also baked into what were called "Approval Documents" which were legal government documents that industry had to follow in order to even be able to do business. A large project that I spearheaded involved working with the government and industry to abolish these meetings for "business as usual" cases and saved literally thousands of man hours per year. I was quite proud of killing that off.

Fast forward to today. I will literally fly across the continent to spend time with people in casual meetings. I have not had any formal meetings with any of these individuals as of yet, but I absolutely can not wait for this to happen! They are all lobby and/or lunch meetings, and I get excited for weeks on end before the date. Funny how our opinion on these things can change depending on circumstances.

Am I jaded about all the time I "wasted" prior to this on meetings? Not a freaking chance! 100% of what I have done in my life has given me the skills that I am currently utilizing, or areas of my life I have so far identified that I need to work on. Sure I could have been better at how I spent my time, or better at what I did. One thing I have always done though was what I thought to be a great job, and this has all led to what I do now. What I am doing now leads to what I will be doing in the future. I always need to be aiming higher, and part of that was just going through the motions and leading mundane meetings.

So do I agree that "all meetings are a vain waste of time, no exceptions"? Not a chance in hell. Meetings allow me to meet individuals and foster relationships. Where these relationships head... sky is the limit my friends. The sky is the limit.
 

Andy Black

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Sometimes a meeting gets things done quicker. Sometimes not.

They have their place, especially for brainstorming, team building, and passing on a vision.

I’ve turned down clients who insisted on a meeting to kickoff a project that involved me traveling to them. Some meetings you know are going to be a waste of your time. I’m wary of people who insist on a face-to-face meeting when a group call does the job just as well.

But I love “meeting” people for coffee and to discuss things face-to-face. The next best is a video Skype call.
 

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When I sold my last business a good friend of mine asked me to help him in his company for a bit. Every Monday morning was spent bringing himself and his team up to date on where they were with various contracts and work flows. Basically playing catch-up.

I couldn't believe that 2 hours were wasted like that. He didn't see the issue as it had to be done so everyone would know what had been happening so they knew what had to be done that week.

I had a chat with him about the inefficiencies and took a couple of days to set up Basecamp and add in all the details of all the existing contracts that were ongoing.

Result; no Monday morning meetings any more and no 'oh shit we should have done that last week' moments.

Everyone knew their roles and what tasks they were required to do and by what date plus we could all see what had been done and what was still required.

I did miss the coffee and cakes though. :happy:
 
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CareCPA

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How many issues can come up in 24 hours?
I think you'd be surprised.
Do you own a business or run a team?
 

Kak

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Totally 100 percent disagree.

Face-to-face meetings, in my experience, have provided 10x the opportunity of a phone call.
 

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Face to face meetings can be really way more efficient and faster than phone conversations or email, especially when several people are involved.

The problem is when meetings are organized just because, on a weekly basis, everyone is trying to show off in front of the bosses, using jargon that doesn't really help anyone or is incredibly ambiguous...

I think meetings are alright, but going straight to the point, being clear and finishing it as soon as everything is solved.
 

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While I get where you are coming from....you’re just in the wrong meetings.

People won’t discuss 7-9 figure deals via email, Skype or Trello.

Meetings in general remind me of one of my favorite Uncle G quotes:
“If you’re the most successful person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”

Better yet, have your meetings over dinner or on the golf course.
 
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Patrick Jones

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Team meetings were where I learned to solve chess problems in my head and sleep with open eyes.

Anything larger than a 1:1 quickly gets inefficient.
 

B. Cole

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Or simply lie to cover up their incompetence.
Not in this world at least, it’s too transparent to cover up and bullshit, it’s physical progress in plain sight. If that’s the issue where you work, the organization isn’t nearly as transparent as it should be. Make them validate their claim, show me.

Face to face is priceless, it’s a real connection that calls out what’s really going and puts focus on what is front of the team, not sporadic effort competing with everything else on their desk for their attention.
 

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Totally 100 percent disagree.

Face-to-face meetings, in my experience, have provided 10x the opportunity of a phone call.
I think it depends on the purpose of the meetings. Your face to faces are probably all about building contacts and creating revenue. In that case flying 1/2 way around the world would be worth the trouble if the contacts made are valuable enough.

Compare that with inter-department meetings discussing the minutia of this and that which are generally a total waste of time and effort.

The title probably doesn't help:

All Meetings Are A Vain Waste Of Time - No Exceptions!

There are Apples and there are Oranges.
 

ZF Lee

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Totally 100 percent disagree.

Face-to-face meetings, in my experience, have provided 10x the opportunity of a phone call.
Just like an Internet forum, a meeting can only be good as its people.

One of the longest meetings that I ever went to was in high school.

I was a school librarian at that time.

The folks made the mistake of selecting too many student librarians.
Now we had kids who just went there to hang out with friends, instead of performing duties
such as organizing books or dusting shelves.

Needless to say, 90% of the time was spent picking on faults and scolding.

Another of the longest meetings I went to was with an entrepreneur meetup.
It was around 4 hours-lasting from 7pm until midnight.

Great folks.
Many brilliant minds, with sound experience, rationale and transparency.

We examined many things we could improve in our lives such as business models, health and products.
Instead of pointing out mistakes and blaming, they gave tons of suggestions, shared their add-ons and offered tips and referrals.


I dunno why they haven't held another meetup again. Would go again.

On another note, I highly recommend Masterson's style of obtaining feedback from a team to improve copy, as detailed in his book Copy Logic. It's mostly for agency copywriters in teams, but this method can work elsewhere. I noticed some of my most productive meetings mirroring his stuff although I didn't know about it until last year.
 

Kak

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Never leave a meeting without assigning responsibilities and discussing next steps.

I know what you guys are talking about. Occasionally there are folks that meet to spin wheels and not much else. Just don't be that kind of person and your meetings will be far more valuable to you.
 

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First of all, I try to avoid making declarative statements such as, "I'm never doing such and such again." That usually leads to me eating my words down the road.

But the rant is completely understandable. With today's vast array of communication tools, many meetings are a waste of time. Some do serve a purpose, IF AND ONLY IF, the organizer understands why they must have a face to face, plans for an efficient exchange of information, brings the right people to the table and properly executes the meeting. I love the short "stand ups" mentioned in earlier posts. People tend to pontificate if they are comfortably sitting around a table, coffee or tea at hand in their fancy mug. Make them stand up and OMG they can't wait to get done and move on. There's also something to be said for observing body language, which is much harder to do in remote settings.

As with so many things - everything in balance and for purpose.
 

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Thanks for your offer to look at my book. Here's the link to the squeeze page Buy The Prosperous...
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MARKETPLACE You Are One Call Away From Living Your Dream Life - LightHouse’s Accountability Program ⚡
The day I can afford to pay 800 a month to have someone keep me accountable is the day I've won...



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