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Phoenix Forward

5 ways to spot a meeting that’s a waste of time

5 ways to spot a meeting that’s a waste of time

Let’s meet and discuss why so many meetings are a waste of time. On second thought, forget the meeting: One expert says there are already too many of them.

“There are too many meetings as a whole, and the biggest problem is that they are unproductive or not as productive as they could be,” laments Bryan Forsyth, PhD, a business communication instructor at University of Phoenix. Forsyth, a former corporate executive in several different industries, says that in his experience, perhaps only half of all meetings are worthwhile. Here, how to figure out which appointments to keep:


Review the agenda carefully.

Every meeting should have a specific agenda and purpose and end with specific action plans, Forsyth advises. “If the employees or customers don’t benefit because there is no value added in some way, then don’t bother having a meeting.”


Determine whether you’ve set up too many weekly meetings.

The blame, he believes, is in the company culture of some businesses. People in some organizations schedule and attend a multitude of meetings to prove they are busy. “That’s what they think they need to be doing — making decisions and meeting,” Forsyth said.


Avoid power-trip meetings.

These are ones bosses call because they want to be seen and heard to make sure everyone knows who is in charge. “It makes them feel important,” Forsyth says, but it takes them away from what they should be doing. “Their job should be removing roadblocks for their employees. They should be making sure their people have the resources they need to do their jobs well and add value for the organization and its [customers].”


Evaluate the guest list.

Forsyth believes that some meetings include people who can’t contribute and are not affected. Yet, these individuals can sidetrack the meeting and lengthen it. Forsyth suggests a simple rule of thumb before summoning someone to a meeting: “When you leave the meeting, everybody should be assigned some kind of action. If you can’t assign an action to someone, then they probably shouldn’t have been in the room to begin with.”


Think twice before inviting those at the top.

Chief executives can’t work on strategy or improving business while at a meeting and, unfortunately, a third of a CEO’s workday is spent in meetings, according to a study first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

It’s important to consider the cost of meeting time, especially for those at the top of the pay scale. “When I talk about all the hours wasted in meetings, you can put dollar signs on that,” Forsyth says. “When you put dollar signs on that, there could be a huge loss for the company.”

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