How Do I Know That A Meeting Is Not Needed?

Meetings play an essential role in any organization. But, how do we know when a meeting simply isn’t needed?

As a professional, time is often your most precious commodity. So, how do you decide when a meeting is not needed?

Every moment spent in an unproductive meeting could likely be put to better use, but it can be difficult to determine when you’re dealing with something that must remain within the four walls of a conference room or if it can be solved simply by having an email exchange.

To avoid wasting your valuable time, here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to schedule a meeting is truly necessary. But first, let’s discuss the reasons why there are so many meetings in the first place.

Why are there so many meetings in the first place?

In today’s increasingly connected world, meetings are a necessity due to the need for teams to come together and discuss ideas.

They assist with coordination between multiple departments and keep everyone on the same page.

Undeniably, it’s often easier to tackle a project in a group by utilizing the collective skills of different minds rather than attempting it individually.

Furthermore, since attention spans are limited when it comes to handling complex subjects, meetings help break down objectives into manageable chunks that can be tackled piece by piece.

All of this leads to an improved sense of purpose and focus that would otherwise be missing when attempting certain tasks in isolation.

How Do I Know That A Meeting Is Not Needed?
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell

Meetings are increasingly prevalent in today’s society due to a organizations being less hierarchical and more self-directed.

This increased employee empowerment leads to the belief that employees have the information and resources that the organization requires.

Meetings are often chosen as the channel to extract that information.

Rogelberg et al., 2007

How do I know when a meeting isn’t needed?

There are a few telltale signs that can help you determine whether or not a meeting is really necessary. Critical examination of the purpose, objective and target audience of a proposed meeting will help identify if it can be done without one.

In addition, review the timing, location and frequency of meetings held in the past on similar topics to assess if a new meeting is necessary.

If an array of topics are meant to be covered within a single gathering, ask whether it’s possible to break them up into multiple smaller meetings; this sub-divides active participants and helps tailor discussions more specifically to their relevant area.

Next, take a look at the agenda. If there are only a few items on the list, or if they can be easily covered in an email or quick phone call, then chances are the meeting isn’t necessary.

Finally, think about the time commitment. If the meeting is only going to last for a few minutes, or if it can be easily rescheduled for another time, then it’s probably not worth having.

It is estimated that the average worker spends about 6 hours weekly in scheduled meetings, with supervisors spending even more time.

This number seems to be on the increase.

In fact, of 1,900 business leaders involved in a survey, more than 72% reported spending more time in meetings than they previously did 5 years ago.

Rogelberg et al., 2007

Read also: 3 Key Strategies For Easily Managing Distractions During Communication

Questions to ask yourself before scheduling a meeting

Asking the right questions is essential for ensuring that a meeting is necessary to gather the desired information or outcome. These questions include:

1. Can the issue be resolved without a meeting?

2. Would an email or phone call suffice?

3. Are all of the people who need to be involved available for a meeting?

4. Is there a clear purpose for the meeting?

5. Is there a clear agenda?

6. Were these issues addressed before/already?

7. Will the meeting be held at a convenient time for all involved?

8. Can the meeting be kept within a reasonable time frame?

The answers to these questions will help you determine if a meeting is needed. If you have any doubts, it’s best to err on the side of caution and steer clear of scheduling a meeting. Better to avoid wasting time than to try and salvage a productive meeting from an unclear purpose.

"Meetings move at the speed of the slowest mind in the room." - Dale Dauton
“Meetings move at the speed of the slowest mind in the room.” – Dale Dauton

Final words on how do I know that a meeting simply isn’t needed

If you’re questioning whether or not a meeting is needed, it’s likely that it isn’t. Unless the purpose of the meeting is absolutely clear and there is a concrete agenda, it’s probably not worth having.

To avoid wasting time, try to accomplish what you need to through email, phone calls, or one-on-one conversations instead.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you’re dealing with a sensitive issue that needs to be discussed in person, or if you’re trying to build team morale, a meeting may be necessary.

Read also: 15 Key Tips To Easily Improve Work Meetings

12 Things to Avoid During Meetings


Rogelberg, Steven & Scott, Cliff & Kello, John. (2007). The Science and Fiction of Meetings. MIT Sloan Management Review. 48.

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Rushana Greenidge-Horace

Rushana is a dynamic, knowledgeable professional with almost a decade of experience in the healthcare industry. She remains committed to promoting holistic health and wellness.

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