How to decline a meeting.
Last week, I axed a weekly meeting.
The three other people in on this weekly meeting are incredible, and I’ve learned a lot from our time together. But, besides enjoying their conversation, there was no reason to keep on meeting. What we had set out to achieve had been accomplished.
Canceling this meeting got me wondering, if I hadn’t cancelled the meeting, how long would we have still met, simply for the sake of meeting?
Meetings are effective and necessary. But not all of them.
When deciding to accept or decline a meeting – run it through this checklist first.
- Agenda: Does the meeting have a planned agenda? If it doesn’t, consider opting out until one is established. I’ve attended way too many agenda-less meetings that could have been accomplished in 15 minutes instead of 60. Consider responding by saying something like: “Thank you for inviting me to this meeting. I’d like to attend, but before I accept could you provide me with an agenda of what will be discussed? As a rule, I only attend meetings that have objectives for what’s to be accomplished.”
- Content: Are you having the meeting to make a decision? Decision-based meetings are necessary. If no decisions are being made or discussed, there’s a good chance the meeting isn’t worth your time.
- People: Are the right people in the room? Only the people needed to make a decision should be invited. People attending to just be in the informational loop should be dismissed. Having the right people in the room makes for quality conversation. Having too many people in the room makes for a quantity of conversation.
- Brainstorm: Is the meeting a brainstorming session? Creative meetings are fun, and are meant to be less-structured and more free-flowing. But beware brainstorming sessions that are completely unstructured. So, run it through #1-3 first – make sure the meeting has some objectives (agenda), ask what outcome is needed from the meeting (content), and make sure all who needs to be there is present (people).
Do you have other criteria for accepting or declining meetings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!