HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Tips for eliminating unnecessary meetings

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Meetings can go one of two ways. Either they’re productive or a complete waste of time. Becoming pickier with meetings and only conducting them when they’re going to be beneficial can help to maintain productivity.

As recently discussed by HR Leader, meetings can be a massive strain on productivity. This is why avoiding unnecessary catch-ups is so important. Not only will it benefit the business, but it will keep fed-up workers happy.

“The pivotal conversation we need to be having with leaders is: Are we choosing the right tool or approach to get the job done, or are we blindly defaulting to meetings? Our report found 76 per cent of meetings are ineffective – so three in four meetings feel like a waste of time,” said Atlassian’s work futurist, Dom Price.


According to Price, there are three questions people should ask themselves before sending out that meeting invite:

  • Does the interaction require high-fidelity communication?
  • Is everyone attending going to be equally participating?
  • Do we need attendees to give feedback instantly?

“If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ or even a ‘maybe’, then a meeting is unlikely to be the most effective use of anyone’s time,” Price said.

“If leaders intentionally decide a meeting is the right tool for the job, then clarity and preparation are key ingredients to make the most of everyone’s time together. This can be as simple as setting an agenda, providing attendees relevant background materials, making sure everyone knows their role, and clearly communicating the meeting’s objective.”

Eliminating excessive meetings can even lead to higher-performing teams, said Price.

“The reality is ‘the meeting’ is a legacy of an analogue, physical workplace, and reconsidering its role and frequency is an important part of evolving how we work in a modern, distributed workforce,” he added.

“Subtraction is one of the most impactful practices that leaders can take advantage of – yet it doesn’t get any airtime … When you remove a low dividend activity like unnecessary meetings, we free up head space for high dividend activities like creating, ideating and problem solving – the stuff that moves the needle. Reducing meetings also gives workers more flexibility to block out their day for deep work and ultimately leads to more effective teams.”

Switchboard provided eight tips for making this a reality:

  1. Audit recurring meetings and collect feedback.
  2. Cancel meetings without a clear agenda.
  3. Introduce meeting-free days.
  4. Give people permission not to attend.
  5. Improve documentation.
  6. Track time spent on meetings.
  7. Shorten meeting times.
  8. Share materials.



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.