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"Do You Really Need to Hold That Meeting?" A daunting question that has been around for a long time

In 2010, Eyrolles Publishing - one of the main management focused publishing company in France - published one of the books I co-directed. The book's title went by: "Conducting an effective meeting". On page 25, under the section "I reflect on the real purpose of the meeting and its objective", we wrote : "I have to resist the urge to organize meetings if they are not really useful. If I can't clearly define the objective of the meeting, it's unnecessary and won't lead to concrete actions. It will only be a waste of time".

Thirteen years later, the daunting question of holding or not holding a meeting is still overly present in people's daily working life. Furthermore, it has probably become even more acute since technological tools allow us to set up a meeting with a simple click. Over the years of my consulting, training and coaching endeavors, I have seen so many managers and staff overwhelmed with meetings that end up wasting their time and reducing the amount of work that is done.

So, developing some automatic questioning might help you save some time : does the subject at stake really need a (virtual) meeting? Do you really need to gather people around to make progress? Are there other means, faster, more efficient that could help you move forward?

Developing healthy practices might do the trick as well : blocking time slots outside of which meetings cannot be held (middle of the day for instance), not allowing yourself or others to set up meetings before and after a certain time of the day (say before 9.00 and after 17.00 for instance), not taking more than 2 people at once from 1 department in the same meeting (This one does not work if you're having a department meeting!).

To learn more on how to avoid unnecessary (virtual) meetings, check the Harvard Business review decision tree published by Elizabeth Grace Saunders in her article "Do you really Need To Hold That Meeting?"

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