Why Meetings Matter

As you learned in our last post, meetings can quickly become a money-waster. But does that mean companies should scratch meetings completely? Well, no.

Face-to-face communication is invaluable in the workplace. An overwhelming majority of meeting attendees (92%) said they value the opportunity to contribute (Verizon).

A single conversation can take the place of a long stream of back-and-forth email, saving valuable time. Additionally, when supervisors and executives make time for a meeting, it sends the message that they value the topic and the attendees’ input.

In-person conversations are necessary in the workplace because they remind employees that they are working with people—not mechanical entities or cogs in a bureaucratic system.

And the higher the stakes, the more advantageous a face-to-face discussion. A UCLA study found that 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. When it comes to sensitive discussions and crucial decisions, people are more likely to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion through in-person interactions—simply because they are better able to interpret enthusiasm, hesitation, and other emotions.

So then, how do we keep this essential form of communication from turning into an energy-sapping, hours-long affair?

While it’s not a good idea to scratch all meetings, the average employee would benefit from having fewer meetings throughout their workweek.

Often, people meet because they feel they should or because it’s part of their weekly routine. If a meeting doesn’t have a clearly defined objective, then it’s a waste of time. It’s simply meeting for the sake of meeting.

Several years ago, leaders at Dropbox noticed that many of their engineers were spending half their day in meetings. They responded with a measure christened “Armeetingeddon.” (Inc.)

Armeetingeddon deleted all recurring meetings from everyone’s calendars. Routine check-ins that had been created months earlier were suddenly gone. Furthermore, Armeetingeddon prevented people from creating new recurring meetings for a two-week period. This forced employees to reexamine whether these long-held meetings were still functional. Many found they were not.

While we don’t recommend such drastic actions, Dropbox executives did make an excellent point: the best way to improve meeting strategies is to eliminate unnecessary meetings.

Before sending or accepting any invites, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this meeting?” Every invitation you add to your calendar should contribute something to your work. Don’t hold a meeting if the same purpose—whether this is to update team members or obtain approval—could be accomplished just as effectively through an email or a phone call.

Don’t just ask this question about new meeting requests—periodically review recurring calendar items and decide whether they are still relevant.

A meeting could be expertly run in accordance to all the best practices, but if the same functions could be accomplished in a more effective manner through an email, the meeting is still a waste of resources.

Want to stop wasting resources and turn your meetings into productivity powerhouses? Check out more tips in our eBook, Meetings with Meaningful Dialogue – available now for free!