Invited to a meeting? Be brave enough to say “No!”

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Global Integration is urging busy executives to save one day per month, beginning by saying ‘no’ to at least two meetings a week, where there is no clear agenda or value. Today it has launched The ‘Better Meetings’ campaign, designed to enable managers and senior leaders to tame the inordinate number of demands placed upon them in increasingly complex organizational structures.

Several studies have shown meetings to be the number one time-stealer for managerial and professional people with most spending on average two days per week in meetings. A recent survey by Global Integration shows that 43% of executives never decline meetings and only 10% do so regularly, even though as much as 50% of the content can be irrelevant.

The campaign has been developed to enable executives to implement some essential changes to the way they work. It comprises a series of short papers with advice and techniques to reduce the number and length of meetings, as well as improve their preparation, content, engagement and outcomes. It also includes a meetings calculator, so that executives can calculate the amount of time and wastage spent in meetings, providing a compelling business case for change.

Kevan Hall comments: “Many meetings are a waste of time. There is no clear agenda or outcome from the meeting; the wrong people attend; we discuss matters of low relevance to participants; or we meet collectively when the work would be performed better in one-to-one discussions, or in smaller sub-teams. There is a better and more efficient way of working, but executives need the right tools and knowledge to effectively take charge of their own time.”

There are six key steps for improved meetings, each of which is covered in the Better Meetings campaign.

  1. Be brave enough to say no
  2. Cut out unnecessary topics
  3. Remove unnecessary participants
  4. Drive meetings from outcomes, not agendas
  5. Improve participation and engagement
  6. Embed change and overcome resistance

Campaign materials can be found on

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Western Europeans and Anglo-saxons tend to see meetings as decision-making, idea-generating, debating forums – more creative and spontaneous. East Asians see them as formal information-up and delegation vehicles – “no discussion, just do!” They often see Western-style meetings as chaotic, under-prepared and disrespectful (and are sometimes right to say so). I agree with most of what the article says, but if we all accept the globalisation effect is real, then we need to think more broadly about why we meet and why other ways of running them make perfect sense to the people involved.

  2. I think its within our own control to start insisting on preparation and agendas for meetings and if that isn’t done then vote with your feet and leave.

    I once held a meeting in a room with no chairs, that certainly focused the minds on keeping things short, sweet and too the point.

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