We’ve all walked out of meetings and thought, “Well, that could’ve been in an email!”
One way to sidestep complaints about your own meetings is to make sure you’re actually ready to drop something on the calendar – and not just because you feel like you’re due for a chat.
How can you tell where on that spectrum you fall? Use the signs below to diagnose your own situation and determine whether or not a team meeting is really necessary.
Schedule that meeting if . . .
1. You have a clear goal.
Every meeting needs a clear mission or objective, otherwise there’s really no point in getting together. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to solve a problem? Plan a timeline? Discuss a challenge? Brainstorm an idea? Make sure that you can point to a clear takeaway before you put a meeting on the calendar. If you can? Book it.
2. You’ve created an agenda.
Once you’ve settled on your mission, it shouldn’t be a secret – loop in the rest of the team on what you’ll discuss and what you’re trying to get done. The biggest trap that meeting organizers fall into is working backwards. They book a meeting slot, and then try to figure out how they’ll fill it. Instead, it’s smarter to plan your agenda first and then book your meeting time to match it. Have your agenda in hand? Schedule your meeting.
3. You know exactly who you need to invite.
There’s nothing worse than being forced to sit through a meeting that has absolutely nothing to do with you. This is another reason why a pre-planned agenda is helpful – knowing what you want to discuss gives you a good grasp of who you need to invite. So, if you know exactly who deserves a seat at that table, then you probably have a solid understanding of all of the other nuts and bolts. You’re justified in scheduling a time.
Skip that meeting if . . .
1. You’re just sharing information.
Do you just need to give a project update or let everyone know that you’ve switched up the team outing menu from pizza to tacos? Have a brief update or fact-based information that likely won’t lead to an ongoing discussion? That’s what email or an instant messaging platform is for. It’s a lot quicker than rounding everybody up, and plus people then have something to refer back to should they forget. There are a few exceptions to this rule: think company all-hands and executive meetings.
2. You’re hosting it just to host it.
This might sound painfully obvious when you read it in writing, but it happens more often than you think – especially with regularly scheduled or recurring meetings. These consistent slots on the calendar have a way of turning into glorified catch-up sessions or status updates, rather than productive conversations. So, if you have a recurring meeting on your team’s calendar, make sure that you’re re-evaluating it frequently to ensure it’s really worth the time.
3. You don’t have your ducks in a row.
Do you have your supporting materials – like a creative brief, slide deck, or whatever else you need to make your point – all set and ready to go? Do you have your agenda planned out and ready to be shared? If not, it’s too early to book that meeting. Sure, you might have some spare time to pull these things together after you schedule a time. But it often takes longer for those things to come together than you anticipate, and you’d hate for your meeting time to roll around while you’re still missing half of what you need.