Meeting Fatigue?


A recent article on took a look at the state of meetings in the American workplace and raised some questions on their efficacy and costs.


We here at CLINIC are firmly entrenched in the world of Agile Development. As such, we are very comfortable with the idea of a “stand-up” meeting: a meeting taken on your feet to avoid settling in and dragging on, hopefully taking less than fifteen minutes.  What makes this easy in a daily project stand-up is that the agenda and flow are 100% known from the start. In most cases it is:

  • What work got done yesterday, was it what we expected?
  • Did any new blockers arise?
  • If there are issues or blockers what steps will we take in the short term to resolve them?
  • Are we sure everyone on the team knows what their work will be for the day?

These meetings are simple, effective, and always end with actionable outcomes, even if those are often to “keep doing what we’re doing.”

We have extended this idea to our other meetings, whether they be weekly staff meetings, project planning meetings, or even partner meetings. When a meeting is scheduled, we set in advance:

  • Who will be running the meeting?
  • Who will be documenting the meeting?
  • What is the agenda for the meeting? (It is very straightforward if this is written out as questions that need answering)
  • What is the time cap for the meeting? (We aim for a one hour maximum)

Then any questions that need answering are either answered in the meeting and sent out in the meeting notes to all, or assigned as deliverables to a member of the meeting that needs to do further research to answer them. If it seems that the number of questions to be answered can’t fit into that one hour window, we’ll split the meeting up, which can also lead to more efficiency if team members without overlap on issues need only attend one of the meetings.

I understand that we have flexibility as a smaller company, but I think that more accurately targeting the planning and expected outcome of all meetings can benefit any size organization. What are other people doing to avoid “meeting fatigue” and to make your company more efficient?

[Note, the ShutterStock search for “bored meeting” I used to get the image for this article has hundreds and hundreds of results… this appears to be a universal issue.]