Meetings Are Toxic: Are They?

There are some notions on teams that meetings are toxic. They are toxic for one or several reasons:

  1. Meetings take away productive, actual, in-the-zone hours where team members could actually create something meaningful.
  2. Meetings only produce abstractions, they don’t produce concrete results.
  3. Meetings are inundated with time and resource waste, especially if you try to bring in teams that need to travel from other regions.
  4. Meetings generally take away focus. People are late, people’s minds are elsewhere, larger meetings leave members with no meaningful voice or contributions. Also, imagine that when you’re actually in the zone to do something, a sudden meeting could interrupt the whole process.

These notions are generally true especially for software or design development, but are meetings that bad?

Those who are pro-meetings think that:

  1. Meetings give chance to talk with humans. Really. We don’t do that often, right?
  2. Meetings give a checkpoint to check everybody’s statuses. It can be brief and productive.
  3. Meetings aren’t always about being face-to-face, we can save costs by doing it over Skype or Hangout.
  4. In certain situations, like business negotiations, or clarification-seeking discussions, or any other humanely-related decisions, meetings are still the best way to go.

I would think that we need a balance of both. We need to take meetings away and down to the minimum, and the time it takes to do it must be very brief. I’d say the composition would be 70% of the time to do actual work and 30% to do consolidations, but that depends on the industry and the professional line. I can say sales would make meetings in 70% of their time and spend the rest writing documents and proposals.