How many meetings did you attend last month? How many meetings did you host last month?

And how many of them did you leave feeling like you’re super hyped, have resolved a challenge that has been holding you back for a while, or clarified the scope of a project and created a precise list of follow up actions for each team member to take?

If you’re anything like me then you will find that 90% of those meetings didn’t result any of the above – and that’s when it’s time to question why you’re hosting/attending that meeting in the first place.

So, what’s actually happening with your meetings?

One of the things I believed before I started working online years ago, is that I would NEVER have to sit in one of those pointless meetings that plagued my work EVER again.

Oh, I couldn’t have been more wrong. If I tallied up the number of pointless meetings I’ve attended in the last 5 years I think it would way outrun my last job, and maybe even all the ones before that one combined.

It just seems a fact that people love a good meeting – for what purpose is yet to become clear to me.

Maybe it’s to “look” productive.

Maybe it’s for the “team spirit”.

I don’t know.

All I do know is that one of the LEAST productive ways to run your business and keep your team members occupied is by having meetings.

Particularly those ones that just happen every Wednesday at 9am – because that’s what we do. And everyone attends. And no one knows quite what to prepare, what’s going to be discussed or why they’re there – but they show up because they’ve been told to. And everyone stays the precise amount of time that has been blocked in their calendar – even if there is nothing left to discuss.

And then they leave and the impact this meeting had equals about 0.

Actually I would almost argue that the impact the meeting had on anyone’s productivity is about a -2.

And each meeting makes that number get bigger.

As a service provider THE most sacred thing is my time – and that of the team. The more meetings we attend, the less time we spend working.

The more meetings we attend, the more task switching is needed. So, realistically just 1 meeting in the mornings is enough to disturb the flow state that’s absolutely holy. Pure concentration – no interruptions.

So, how about a minimum meeting policy?

We are using what I would call a minimum meeting policy – and I’d love to encourage you to consider implenting the same.

We follow a very simple process to make it happen.

1. Ask yourself is this meeting really necessary?

Many things could be discussed in a slack message and really don’t warrant a meeting. Which version of the video do you like best? A, B or C and why? Everyone sends their input, CEO makes final call job done – all without a single meeting.

2. If it’s necessary ask yourself who really needs to be there!

I wish I had a tally on how meetings I attended that really didn’t need a single input from me, and none of the things discussed have any impact on what I do for the business. Examples include your tech people like us attending a social media marketing meeting (or attending a group team meeting where the conversation entirely revolved around social media).

The result of this is that you just paid way more people for 1 hour of their time than you needed to AND those people are not going to bring anything to your business in return. Negative ROI would never be something you’d accept in your advertising campaign, so why accept it with meetings?

3. Define the outcome of the meeting and assign the least amount of time needed to arrive at the outcome

I call it a micro meeting. There is ONE outcome that needs to be achieved. So define the outcome, define the prep each meeting attendee should do (eg. review files) and assign the minimum amount of time needed to arrive at a conclusion.

For example deciding on a creative to use may only take 15 minutes. Discussing how to address a larger problem could take 30 minutes to an hour and making a marketing plan for the next quarter may take 3 hours.

4. Be content with ending a meeting early if there’s nothing left to discuss

This one always gives me a productivity boost and shows me that my time is valued.

So, how are you going to change your meeting policy?