Written by Jasmine Cargill
on April 01, 2016
Meetings are an inevitable part of work-life and often the best way to get something done. The problem is that we attend too many of them. According to the American National Statistics Council, employees spend 37 percent of their work time in meetings. Too many meetings adds up to interrupted work-flows, lowered productivity and meeting-fatigue.



Scheduling a meeting may be the right fit for the situation, then again, there may be a better alternative. Next time you want to book a meeting, ask yourself these five questions. 

1. Is your purpose just to update or share information?

If your purpose is simply to update or share information, do your colleagues a favor and use email. Holding a meeting just to update or share information is a waste of precious time. If you are already in a meeting for valid reasons, then its fine to include updates but don’t use too much time for this.

If you want feedback or input on information you are sharing, a meeting could be the right fit but consider other formats first.

2. If you are seeking input or feedback, do you need it in real time?

If you are asking for input for a project or feedback on your work, email can sometimes be a better option, especially for longer documents. It means your colleagues can look at it in their own time, when it suits them. Be strategic with what you are asking for. Craft clear questions for your colleagues to answer. What do you want from them specifically?

3. Can you substitute a meeting with one-on-one discussions or interviews?

Sometimes the goal of a meeting can be achieved by a few one-on-one discussions. Plan some strategic questions and try an informal setting like over coffee or a walking meeting.

Asking three colleagues for 15 minutes of their time for a one-on-one discussion will use the same amount of time for you as a meeting organizer, but a lot less time and resources for those three people.

You can also try to host a walking meeting

4. Does it need to be face-to-face?

Make technology to work for you. Sometimes a phone or video call, or online chat can be more convenient and less of an interruption for your colleagues. Sending an email with clear questions or discussion topics ahead of time, will mean they are prepared and you use time more effectively.


5. Can you achieve your goal with another format?

Basically this all boils down to one simple question - do you really need a meeting? If you can achieve your goal with another format - go for that. Reducing the amount of time that you and your colleagues spend in meetings, means that the meetings you do have will be much more focused and effective.


At FirstAgenda we want to save the world from ineffective meetings. Our digital meeting tool makes preparing for, holding and following-up on meetings easy and efficient. It’s a cloud-based app allows you to store everything you need for your meetings in one place and it easily integrates with the other systems you use. First Agenda is already used by more than 30,000 professionals.

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