How to Decide if You Need to Call a Meeting

September 7, 2016

Research shows the average professional attends 62 meetings a month. And, as employees are promoted and gain more influence, that number only increases, with meetings occupying the majority of CEOs’ time.

The point?

People don’t need more meetings. And that means you should only schedule a meeting when it’s truly necessary.

But how do you determine that?

Well, in his class Leading Productive Meetings, course author and business coach Dave Crenshaw explained how to determine if you need to call a meeting, or if one-on-one conversations or email is a better option.

The four questions you should ask yourself before calling a meeting.

Crenshaw said the first instinct of employees is often to call a meeting. He advised fighting against that instinct by asking yourself the following four questions. Only if the question to all four answers is yes, should you then go ahead and call the meeting.

The four questions are:

1.    Do we have all the information we need for a meeting?

It’s a waste of people’s time to call a meeting without all the information necessary to make a decision. Likely, the action item out of that meeting will be to get all the relevant information and then meet again to make the decision. So wait until you have the necessary information to schedule a meeting.

2.    Do we need to discuss and collaborate, or delegate and calendar?

There’s no worse meeting than a group of people sitting in a room, while a person or two delegates out tasks. That’s an inefficient use of everyone’s time and could better be achieved via short one-on-one conversations or email.

The purpose of most meetings should be to collaborate and to make team decisions. It shouldn’t be to assign out work, as that could be done more efficiently through other means.

3.    Is it critical we are all on the same page?

What this means is that do all the parties need to know all the information being presented.

For example, if you have a project going on, it’s doubtful that everyone on your team needs to go to every meeting. It’s likely that members of the team will be working on unrelated tasks that don’t overlap.

Only invite people whose work is directly related to the topic at hand in the meeting. Otherwise, you are going to waste people’s time with information they don’t need to know, and potentially muddle the decision-making process.

4.    Is this meeting one of our most valuable activities?

Even if the answer to the first three questions is yes, you should still ask yourself this final question.

After all, a meeting takes people away from work they could otherwise be doing. Therefore, you should only use their time to discuss something that is going to have real impact to your organization.

Otherwise, if it isn’t going to have that real impact, it isn’t worth calling a meeting. In that case, it’s best to handle whatever it is quickly and then move on to more pressing matters.

Tying it all together

Meetings are inherently good. Getting everyone on the same page and weighing a diverse set of opinions when making a decision often leads to better results.

But too many meetings can quickly turn into a bad thing. Some people spend so much time in meetings, it prevents them from accomplishing any other work.

These four questions should remedy that problem. If you only call meetings when the answer to the four questions listed is yes, you’ll only have productive meetings that’ll yield real results.

And everyone will be happier because of it.

Click here to watch Dave Crenshaw’s full class, Leading Productive Meetings. Some other classes you might be interested in are: