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Scheduling a Meeting? Think Twice

Avoid Unnecessary Meetings

Monty Python's John Cleese once made a famous management training video called "Meetings, Bloody Meetings." But unnecessary meetings are no laughing matter: they waste time, money, and energy. Think twice before you call a meeting, and make sure it's for the right reasons.

First of all, how do you cost a meeting? Take your salary or billing rate--let's say $100 per hour. Multiply it by 1.5 to account for overhead, then by the length of the meeting. Then multiply by the number of participants. So a one-hour meeting of five people billing $100 per hour costs the company $750. Is this meeting important enough to replace the $750 worth of work the participants are foregoing in order to attend it? If not, don't have it. Period.

Even if the meeting is worth it, ask yourself the real reasons it's being held. Is it a show of office politics, where managers show off their power and ambitious associates try to climb the corporate ladder? Is it for appearance's sake? Is it held just because there's always been a meeting in that time slot every week? If you find yourself having a meeting for any of these reasons, stop.

Good reasons to hold a meeting include:

But just make sure of two things: that there's no better way to achieve the purpose of the meeting (e.g. information can be imparted by e-mail, memo, or phone) and that everybody knows the reason for the meeting (if some come to make announcements, others come to brainstorm, while others want warm fuzzies, nobody is going to walk out feeling they got what they needed).

Use these pointers to tell whether a meeting is really necessary, and you'll start freeing up your time for real work.

James Cappio is a writer, corporate communicator, editor, and teacher based in Toronto. To learn more about how he can help you deliver messages crafted to get the results you want, e-mail him at cappio@mindspring.com or visit his web site, Copy Writer in Toronto.

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