Useragent’s Rules for Meetings

Meetings without a specific agenda are evil.

A vague agenda isn’t good enough. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Know exactly what you want to accomplish, and know exactly who needs to be there and why. Exception: if you haven’t had a 1:1 conversation with your boss or a particular underling in weeks, then you should set aside 30 minutes to do so. Agenda or not.

Standing Meetings are evil.

Are you meeting every day or every week just to see if there’s something to meet about? Are you a manager who created a standing meeting in order to keep tabs on details you don’t actually need to care about? Is the agenda vague, old, or nonexistent? Exception: Standing meetings that take up 10 minutes or less, with everyone literally standing, might actually be fruitful. Also, standing 1:1 meetings with boss/underling (see above) are a good idea, but probably don’t need to happen more than twice a month.

Two-hour meetings are evil.

For that matter, one hour meetings are evil. I’ve rarely been in a two-hour or even one-hour meeting where more than 20% of the discussion was relevant to me. Of course, I’m not a CEO. if I was, then I suppose all company business would be relevant to me. Still, if I was a CEO, I don’t think I’d want my people wasting 80% of two hours in a meeting just sitting there because the stuff their colleagues are saying is relevant to me. Exception: “Working” meetings (e.g. whiteboard sessions) where momentum is carrying things along, and the participants are still energized.

Midday meetings are evil.

It’s hard enough to get into a rhythm with all the unscheduled interruptions that occur throughout the day, but it’s hard to even try to get into a rhythm when you know you’re going to have to stop right before lunch anyway. Meetings should happen at either the very beginning or the very end of the day. Exception: Lunch meetings. You’re going to stop and eat anyway, so why not get something done? On the other hand, a pause for food should also be a pause for sanity.