Reduce unnecessary meetings

Virtual First | Effectiveness Kit

Unnecessary meetings are one of the biggest effectiveness busters at work. One study concludes that 50% of meetings are unnecessary. Another estimates that employers lose $37B/year on them. Meetings tend to proliferate in remote work, so use this workshop to decide which meetings matter—and which to handle asynchronously.

40 MINS | PERSONAL EXERCISE

Step 1: Audit your meetings

Jot down the syncs (like 1:1s, standups and team meetings) you attend each week. What do you notice?

Step 2: Learn when to meet—and when not to

Effective meetings tend to be about the 3d’s—important decisions, debate, and discussion. Everything else you can handle async. Take a look at Meetings 101. Did anything surprise or confuse you?
Meetings 101

Step 3: Grade your meetings

Once you know what counts as meeting-worthy, you can see which meetings are working for you. Fill out the meeting scorecard. When you’re done, reflect: How are you doing on the 3d’s? Notice any patterns or themes?
Meeting scorecard

How do your meetings stack up?

Have you mastered the 3d’s, or do you need a meeting cleanup? Fill out the scorecard to find out.

Step 4: Do a meeting cleanse

Use the meeting cleanse worksheet below to “clean up” any meetings that aren’t for the 3d’s.  If there are risks or downsides to cutting a meeting or handling it asynchronously, think about how you’ll address them. For example, could you have someone else who’s closer to the subject attend the meeting, and get the notes after? Could you agree to send status updates over chat at the same time each week? When you’re finished, delete any meetings you don’t need (just be sure to give your coworkers a heads-up).
Meeting cleanse

It’s time for spring cleaning.

Use this worksheet to decide what to cut. Wondering which apps to use for async updates? Check out our collaboration tools cheatsheet.

Meeting cleanse worksheet

Step 5: Check in with yourself

In 1–2 months, reflect: How’s my new schedule working? In the meantime, if you keep getting called into unnecessary meetings, here are some ways to respectfully decline:

    Thanks for including me! I’m trying to be more disciplined about my schedule. Could we try this over email first?

    I’d be happy to give you feedback! Before we schedule a meeting, could I try reviewing in a doc? 

    Since this topic isn’t a debate, decision, or discussion, could we try to solve it async instead?

    I’ve got a serious case of Zoom fatigue. Could we try a walking phone call instead?

More resources

3 easy wins

Build the habit

  • Tomorrow: Share your next status update in a chat
  • Next week: Create a running 1:1 doc and update it throughout the week, to save meeting time
  • Quarterly: Schedule meeting “spring cleaning” with your team