How to handle people who waste time in meetings?

by Ashvini on January 21, 2011 · 3 comments

in Productivity

There is absolutely no question that meetings are a waste of time when conducted without an agenda. They just don’t take people away from their priorities but also distract them so much that they cannot finish their work.
Many a times, you get to meet a person who loves to stay in a meeting room. His or her time in office is all about meeting lot of people, get attention and show off his or her importance.
That person could be

  • your boss who wants you to make him feel important
  • Your colleague who wants to pretend that he/she is doing something useful
  • Or your subordinate who wants to just blabber about how he is treated in office, or about his low pay or his delayed promotion

Many a times, this is so disturbing that you want to throw something at these time wasters.

It is very important thus to make sure that you get in control of the situation.

The Golden rule of productivity
“Avoid meetings if at all possible”

Now that is easier said than done. If the situation is unavoidable and you have to attend the meeting, follow these approaches first

  1. Reply to the meeting request by the mail.
  2. When you reply, ask politely for the reason for the meeting . Mention that it is helpful to get an agenda in advance.

    If you get the agenda, try to resolve it beforehand.

  3. Use chat software to your advantage
  4. Discuss the reasons for meeting informally. Ask if it can be postponed and if is there is anything that can be discussed or resolved in chat session or over  the phone.

  5. Check if you are really needed
  6. It is a general tendency to call large meetings and everyone has to sit through what everyone else talks about even though it is irrelevant.  If your agenda is really small, walk up to meeting organizer and ask him or her, if you are really required. You can always send a note to be read in meeting or if you want to be nice, request the moderator to bring up your agenda points first .

  7. Know why you are there and get out once you are through
  8. Once you have said whatever is needed to be said, there is no reason to stay. If there is nothing that needs to be added, it is a good idea to politely walk away rather than sitting idle in the meeting room.

  9. Do not let this meeting become a reason for another meeting
  10. Try to clear as many issues as possible in one meeting. It would be a great idea to inform people that you are available on telephone, chat and emails and they can check with you on those channels.

  11. Avoid distracting subjects, long discussions and arguments
  12. The best way you can avoid a meeting slide is not to let people hijack your agenda. Moderate the meetings ferociously. Inform the attendees(s) that you would like closure of issues at the end of the meeting.

  13. Decline if possible
  14. Though this may be considered polite but declining a meeting citing specific reasons is a right way to go ahead.

    I hope these points help you to increase your productivity and avoid unnecessary wastage of time.

About The Author

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica Cervera November 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Meetings via conference calls or chat rooms can usually resolve issues, especially those concerned with cascading information or updates. However, there are times where people do have to meet face to face. In this case, whoever will conduct the meeting has to make sure that this meeting will be conducted to resolve issues, not to make a new one.


Aswani January 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

Excellent points buddy. Seems that you really had some bad experience with these meetings. Even I am not in favor of these activities. Meetings need to be conduced only in situations where it is most urgent. The points shared above can certainly be good alternatives for meetings. Thanks for sharing..


Ashvini January 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

It is not easy to imagine what meetings can do to morale. Think of plague and avoid the meetings ;)


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