How many times have you attended a meeting and realized that by the time left you have actually moved backwards in your progress on a project. Because of this and other reasons, I have come to the conclusion that meetings are just utterly pointless. I have come up with a few reasons that hopefully may help you see my side of the situation.
- Everyone has their own agenda. Its seems that everyone enters a meeting with different goals. This would be OK except for when these ideas conflict and then you spend more time in a power struggle than actually accomplishing anything.
- They are extremely expensive. This is something that I actually learned in college. Take the wages earned by everyone in the room, and then multiply that by the time you spent there. If you have a one hour meeting and everyone in the room makes 50 dollars an hour, and there are 5 people present you have spent 250 dollars in one hour.
- In order to be effective everyone must be prepared for the meeting. This usually includes a person reading some sort of agenda and possibly an email or announcement. How many times does this ever really happen though? I am pretty sure that in almost every meeting that you have ever been in someone did not do their homework, and you inevitably spend extra time getting them up to speed.
- They are usually longer than needed. Have you ever been to a meeting where there was no alloted amount of time. Meetings are usually scheduled in 30 minute or hour increments, but what if you only need 10 minutes? Usually the meeting magically fits the amount of time scheduled.
- They spin off into more meetings. Usually after you have a meeting you schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the results of the objectives that were set in place during the first meeting. This easily turns into a long list of meetings with sub-meetings and breakout groups, most of which are a complete waste of time.
- Finally and most importantly, they usually are a symptom rather than a solution. This one I learned this past Friday at the SEED conference from Jason Fried of 37signals. I never realized that the reason you normally have a meeting is because things are wrong and no one knows what to do. Typically the meeting does not solve the problem, and in some cases can even make it worse.
Because of these reasons, I now firmly believe that meetings should be avoided at all costs. If a meeting must be used it should only be as a last resort. I would suggest that we instead spend our time being productive, and speak with our clients in a one on one situation. This not only allows us to build a closer relationship with our clients, it also builds trust in our services on a personal level.
Note: The title is an example of the ridiculous false statistics that always seem to float around pointless meetings.