Meetings Are a Waste of Time: 3 Suggestions to Rescue Your Meetings from Inefficiency


Kevin Gannon recently wrote in his article entitled, Why We Hate Our Own Meetings:

“Lamentations about meetings are a constant presence in academic conversations. Who among us hasn’t wailed something along the lines of, ‘If I didn’t have all these damn meetings, I could actually get some research/writing/grading/anything done?’ As one of my colleagues often laments, ‘They’re meeting us into submission.’”

Meetings can feel like a profound waste of time. They often are. But they don’t have to be. Here are three strategies to move your meetings from wasteful to working:

  1. Have a clear agenda. Ask yourself, “do we really need a meeting?” If the goal is just to update team members, an email will do. Provide the agenda beforehand so everyone knows what to expect will be covered (and what won’t be covered. More on that later).

  2. Have one person running the meeting. This doesn’t have to be the boss. In fact, sometimes it’s better if it isn’t the boss. Have the individual with the most knowledge of the matter guide your time.

  3. Stay focused. Be willing to say, “we can’t cover that now.” Have a procedure in place for tabling topics for later and revisiting them in the most appropriate way (which may not be a meeting).

These ground rules are important for all meetings and become even more essential when it’s a meeting such as a search committee, which are notorious for being loaded with agendas and opinions. By respecting everyone’s time, you will get more done and be happier along the way.

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