Business meetings are a waste of time

Graham Andrewartha| Director| MCA group

“We can’t keep meeting like this,” exclaimed a CEO I was working with, These business meetings are a waste of time.”.  Cath, the CEO of an engineering company, had been in the organisation for almost five years now and she couldn’t help but feel frustrated about how much time was wasted on pointless meetings. The board of directors would convene regularly, yet nothing ever seemed to get done. It often felt like everyone just talked around in circles, rehashing the same topics over and over again without any tangible solution or progress. In assessing the circumstances with her, we identified the board was trapped by some of the common myths about the benefit of meetings.

Generally, a consistent complaint I hear is so many leaders bemoaning that meetings are a waste of time. In old English, the word, meeting, stems from the word ‘mētan’ — which means to come upon. We do not ‘come upon’ very well in todays meetings.

Why are meetings like this?

Meetings are good for business but only if they are efficient and effective. Meetings tend to be the visible signs of the organisational culture, for example: formal cultures have very rule bound meetings; friendly cultures have casual drag on meetings; market cultures have competitive meetings; entrepreneurial cultures have show off meetings.

Too often business meetings are like a bicycle with a flat tyre; they don’t get anywhere. To move forward, we need to find new, innovative solutions to make them more effective. Flat tyre business meetings usually occur by having the wrong meeting for the wrong purpose, the wrong people, the wrong frequency and the wrong leadership. Many meetings are merely convenient for the convener, and not for outcomes.

There are many types of business meetings, which also makes it important to conduct the right type for the right reason. Hybrid and remote teams or zoom meetings have added to the complexity.

Types of Business meetings

As well as stand up, walking around, and chaired meetings, the usual suspects include:

  • Formal meetings.
  • Strategic planning meetings.
  • Informal meetings.
  • Project status or update meetings.
  • Planning meetings.
  • Governance meetings.
  • Innovation meetings.
  • Team building meetings.
  • Problem-solving meetings.
  • Individual performance meetings.

Five meeting myths

There are five myths neatly outlined by Curt Steinhorst in his recent Forbes article.

 #1: Getting together = Getting things done.

 #2: Attendance = Attention. 

 #3: Information shared = Information remembered.

 #4: Meeting = Connection.

#5: In the Room = Influence.”

Steinhorst says, “This last myth is the most important one to flip—the belief that being in the meeting room is the best measure of who’s important.”

Most of these myths are taken as truth because so few of us follow Simon Sinek and genuinely ask why?

Turn poor business meetings into successful ones

Being together feels like we are achieving something; we assume everyone is being attentive and remembering the data (even if it is complex and extensive). Intuitively, but incorrectly, we assume that being in the same room means we are all connecting with each other. And yet, measuring the productivity of our meetings and asking why is all that is needed to turn poor meetings into good ones. See how we might help. 

All of us learn in different ways, and if we are to truly understand the information that was discussed, it needs to be provided in selectively different formats and types. Rather than meetings being our default position, we should explore various alternative options. When meetings are necessary, conduct them efficiently to ensure meetings achieve their goals.


If you would like to discuss with us how you can make your business meetings more meaningful, call or email us on 1300 856 480 or