This year's resolution: minimizing meeting times | Research | Bored meetings:

"1. The more meetings one has to attend, the greater the negative effects; and
2. The more time one spends in meetings, the greater the negative effects"

(Via Meetings considered harmful.)

The main reason is probably when someone is not prepared. Most of the time, if the main speaker is prepared then it is not too bad. As least the main speaker is trying to impart some useful information to the few that are listening to him. But when the speaker is not prepared, then trouble comes. Either some jack ass starts to hijack the meeting by trying to talk a lot to make himself look good. Or the meeting begins to head off tangentially in all sorts of direction.

Also, when you are not prepared for the meeting (like most of the time, especially if it is an ad hoc meeting during one of your busiest days) you are not able to participate at all in it. Most meetings either tell you the things you already know or the things that you will never need to know. Even if it does tell you the things you need to know, you are probably going to forget it unless you write it down somewhere. So, what's the point? Much better to keep it short, and let people know where they can obtain the information for themselves in black and white.

So, is it OK for a long meeting if everyone is prepared for the meeting? Definitely not. If everyone is prepared for the meeting, then it is more appropriate to keep it really short. I especially hate it when the meeting can be shortened but because there is this weekly schedule that says that the meeting is supposed to be an hour long, some moron begins talking crap at the end to make it so. It is definitely OK and highly encouraged to end a meeting early.

Most of the time, no matter what you are doing, if you can maintain daily (not hourly, mind you) communications with the other person it should be much better than meetings. If you need something from someone, then just ask the person directly; there is no point in getting everyone else involved. If more than one person has asked you the same question, write up an FAQ and put it somewhere.

Bottom line: effective communication with the right people is better than trying to get everyone involved in a meeting. Also, ample preparation from everyone is a must for a successive meeting. Finally, when it comes to meetings, shorter is always better.

And what should you do with all the spare time you gain from avoiding meetings? Spend it working during the day and sleeping at night. Which brings me to my other resolution, get enough sleep at night.

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