Ways to Prevent Going to a Meeting

Productive people are aware and proactive when they are invited to meetings. If you get invited to a meeting (or are generally expected to be there) for no other reason than the convener thinks you…

  • “ought to be there,”
  • “have always attended,”
  • “might be interested,” or because they
  • “would like your reactions to the meeting,”

…avoid automatically acquiescing to these requests and expectations. Use some of the following tips to ensure that your attendance at a meeting is worth your time, effort, and energy.

  1. Be crystal clear on what your job is and what your job isn’t. This doesn’t only apply to your professional life; it also applies to your personal life.
  2. Eliminate the meetings that do not directly affect your roles and responsibilities.
  3. When you are invited to a meeting, ask why you have been invited, e.g., “I saw I was included on the calendar invitation for the wiggly-worm meeting on Monday and wanted to check in about being included.”
  4. Once you get the answer on why you’ve been invited and if it’s clear that your presence is not actually required or worthwhile, offer a reason why you will not be in attendance.
  5. Offer to send your ideas to the meeting convener via email or in some other written form.
  6. Schedule time to do your work so that when a meeting is scheduled that truly doesn’t require your attendance, you can legitimately say, “I already have something scheduled at that time.”
  7. Explain to others why you are avoiding meetings — in a positive, proactive way, e.g., “As you know, I run a time log for two weeks a couple of times a year and my most recent one showed a trend of over 50% of my time in meetings and less than 30% working directly on the reason I was hired so I’m trying to flip those numbers by the next time log.”
  8. Encourage others to avoid calling meetings unless essential. My definition of what deserves a meeting: Meetings are when two or more people come together (either F2F or virtually) for a purpose that can best be accomplished in a synchronous exchange. Look at your calendar for the last couple of weeks. Are there “meetings” that didn’t match this definition?
  9. Gain clarity on what is worth holding a meeting for and what isn’t. Some meetings aren’t worth holding ever and other times, it’s not worth holding a particular meeting at this time.
  10. Positively create a culture of finding solutions without meetings. This includes thinking intentionally and creatively to make adjustments so a situation doesn’t become a problem that needs a solution.

You could positive affect the overall productivity of your business, school, or agency by changing the culture of meetings. That’s a pretty good legacy, I’d say.

Imagine the difference in the lives of your organization if the only comments about meetings were:

“Wow! That was a great meeting!” or “Gosh, you missed a super meeting when you were out of town last week, but we’ve set up the next one and I hope you could be there because you’ll love it!” or “Rats! How am I supposed to choose between these two meetings on Tuesday morning?! Both of them energize me so much for the rest of the day but I can’t be in two places at once so I have to choose. It’s hard!” Some tips to help this be true are in my Get a Plan! Guide to Waaayyy Better Meetings.



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