Why do we need so many meetings?

Meetings should be the cornerstones of teamwork, creativity and punchy progress but as Jon Petz says in his entertaining book ‘Boring Meetings Suck: Get More Out of Your Meetings, or Get Out of More Meetings‘,  

…too many meetings drone on like some sort of soul-crushing, walking-dead zombie robbing workplaces of joy, productivity and time.

Meetings can suck the lifeblood out of your day like nothing else, especially at the end of the day after a hard day teaching. They are notorious time stealers.

Petz points out that most books only really point the finger of blame on the person holding the meeting but what this isn’t all one-way. He says,

Only when attendees learn to diplomatically speak up and get meetings back on track will everyone benefit.

This is a fair point to make but some suggest going further than that and being less diplomatic by walking out.

Business magnate Elon Musk has recently said that large meetings are the “blight of big companies”. They are also the blight of schools, big, small and all the ones in between. He says, “It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time,”

And this is true – many meetings are a glorious waste of people’s time and they get people frustrated as hell. One of his productivity tips is, “Walk out of a meeting or end a phone call if it is failing to serve a useful purpose.”

Can you imagine doing this at school? Just getting up and walking out isn’t professional which brings us back to a more realistic strategy as suggested by Petz. He’s not the only one to say this either.

As reported on, Dr Libby Sander, Bond University assistant professor of organisational behaviour recommends we try influencing a meeting instead and politely speaking up when a meeting goes off topic or drags on too long. She also suggests:

  • Try a stand-up meeting to change things up and keep people engaged
  • Get involved in the discussion or decision-making so that you’re not drifting off

I’d add to this taking a meeting outside and going for a walk and talk.

Meetings can work and they do serve valuable purposes but only if they are well-organised and well-conducted.

As Carney (2008) says, meetings are the ‘windows on the soul’ of an organisation and “Meetings afflicted with sloppy planning, flimsy agendas, and fuzzy expectations indicate a no-so-effective one.”

No one wants to work in a sloppy, flimsy and fuzzy school. If you do then you might want to take Elon Musk’s advice and walk out…for good.

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