How to Avoid Having Unnecessary Meetings

Show us 10 meetings & we’ll help you get rid of 8

Meetings, in general, are intended to boost productivity and efficiency. They’re an inevitable part of our everyday working life. If everyone is on the same page, we can accomplish even the most difficult tasks and the most ambitious of projects.  

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Image source: Shutterstock

But here’s the ugly truth: in 2020, professionals spent 158 hours in unnecessary meetings, according to research from work management platform Asana. Now brace yourself because the numbers boggle the mind:

  • 71% of professionals waste time every week due to unnecessary/canceled meetings. 
  • 67% of the respondents of a recent survey done by LinkedIn News Asia say they’re having way too many meetings.

To make matters worse, 2020 brought an increase of 13.5% in the number of meetings each person attends, even if all/ most meetings were moved online and virtual meetings are far more tiring than real-life ones. On top of everything, this is expensive: the salary cost of an hour-long meeting with five attendees (from specialist to director level) is $338!

Recently, Livit got certified as a Great Place To Work®, and our meeting culture is a big part of that. One of our teams describes our meetings as productive, insightful, casual, efficient, light, and exciting. Does this sound strange to you?

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At Livit, not everything has to be a meeting. Some of the reasons people have a meeting are to give status updates, brainstorm ideas, and solve problems. Every meeting should, of course, always have a purpose. The easiest way to find it is to do a “purpose audit” of all your meetings, including the recurring ones and the one-offs. For each of them, you want to understand the desired outcome. You aren’t sure of it or it isn’t immediately evident? It might be a candidate for canceling. The truth is… 80% of meetings should not be meetings.

Alternatives to meetings

We’ve all had “Why couldn’t this have been an email?” moments in our office lives. Here are a few alternatives that save time and boost efficiency:

1. Use shared, collaborative documents to brainstorm ideas

Brainstorming ideas is easier when everyone can share information in one place and give instant feedback. Create a document that serves as a blank canvas for your team’s ideas using Docs. This is an excellent way to source ideas, so you don’t need to spend 2 hours in a meeting just to get them. You can also do something more fun and engaging, like sharing a whiteboard using Miro or Jamboard.

2. Provide context and describing a problem/solution using a video

Many meetings are called to describe an issue or to solve a problem. To make it more efficient, you can create an instantly sharable video using Loom where you can easily your screen, voice, and face to create in 5x less time than it would take to have a meeting. This is incredibly useful in onboarding as well, where a new hire can rewatch bits of training they were given.

3. Share written updates

Status updates really don’t need to be meetings. Those can be replaced by written updates via project management tools (e.g., Asana, Trello, Jira – if you don’t use one please do yourself a favour and start on one right away!) or internal communication tools like Slack or Teams. Generally, updates should be short and concise. It’s more efficient to have team members spend five minutes adding written status updates so others can read and comment if necessary. This alternative also allows team members to share the updates that work for them instead of interrupting their work.

Reinvest the time

We’ve shared some good alternatives to meetings, so now you’ll save a whole bunch of time by not having unnecessary meetings. So what do we instead do with that time?

1. Get good work done.

Getting work done is the core of what we’re doing. We get paid by doing our actual jobs, not having meetings. Most of the time at work should be dedicated to critical tasks, such as taking care of your clients’ projects or developing new business opportunities.

2. Human/social connection gatherings with your team

Social interaction and connection are quintessential human needs. ​​We want to make sure we don’t forget that, so we spice up our week with moments of bonding and fun without talking about work, like coffee buddy chats using Donut. This bot randomly pairs up two people for a “donut date” and offers a conversation opener if needed. You can also do a weekly virtual hangout where you and your team can play interactive games such as Skribbl, Gather, etc.

3. Learn

Continuous learning is critical to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. Use up the time you saved by not having unnecessary meetings to brush up on existing skills or add new ones.

Now you can read Efficiency In The (Remote) Workplace blog post to get proven tips on how to have better meetings!


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