Business Meetings are a great tool if used wisely. They can reduce email clutter, help participants understand issues and problems better, and help colleagues bond.
However, business meetings also have a downside. They can often be a platform where colleagues exercise ego, dragging on for far too long, achieving nothing, and blocking employees from completing their work and meeting important deadlines.
We also know that a business meetings-free day is a productive day. This is because, when our diaries are full of meetings, our to-do lists are long, and we feel like we are not getting much done.
But we keep on saying “Yes” “Sure” or “No Problem” to business meetings. Why? Maybe we fear the bosses as meetings form the core of many business cultures. But with time you will realize, it is always okay to say no to meetings at times.
In fact, Elon Musk Founder Tesla agrees to this, in an email sent to his employees back in 2008 and in May 2021 the same was shared as a Twitter thread by @GabrielGruber. Musk advises that excessive business meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time.
Elon also adds that employees should learn to get out of all large business meetings, unless they are certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case, keep them very short.
He also advises that one should walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious, they aren’t adding value. ‘’It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time,” he adds
This is easy said than done, right? But how can you make it work for you in practice? Learning how to deal with having too many meetings is a top priority for any professional, in any industry.
The trick is to limit them to when they must take place. Recognize that necessity, and you’ll free up many hours to focus on driving productivity and your employees will embrace the revolution.
Before you decide how to decline the business meeting, double-check that declining is the best option. Read the specifics outlined in the invitation to make sure you understand the purpose of the meeting. Go through the agenda to understand what you might be missing out on.
Then, evaluate if your schedule has room for the meeting. While self-evaluating ask yourself the following questions:
This cuts both ways, too. If you’re the person setting up a meeting, ask whether everyone on your list of invitees really needs to be there, and ensure there’s a clear agenda and time limit.
Finally, if you decide not to attend, communicate your decision to the meeting organizer as soon as possible for them to also find an alternative as early as possible.
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If your reason for declining a business meeting is due to a scheduling conflict, you can counter-propose a time for the meeting.
At times colleagues set up meetings more out of habit and at times the agenda can be quite vague. If you think this might be the case, contact the meeting organizer and ask for more information.
Maybe through this, you will be able to give the meeting organizer what they need without having to attend the meeting.
If you still want to decline the meeting, ensure that you do it effectively and respectfully and you remain courteous and professional. This will help you maintain your good working relationships and still offer your assistance.
These extra efforts go a long way to exhibit your willingness to assist with the matter at hand.
In a case where you really need to attend a meeting, you can always opt for easier meeting options that don’t necessarily require you to commute all the way to the office.
This may include booking meeting rooms from nearby workspaces. i.e Nairobi Garage has state-of-the-art meeting rooms that are fully furnished and bookable hourly. Attending meetings away from the office can help you manage your tie effectively and avoid water cooler discussions thereafter.
Time at your company HQ can be used effectively for face-to-face discussion and collaboration, while the time away can be earmarked for other, more individual work.
New work-life trends are reshaping how we go about our daily routines, making now an ideal time to say no to relentless meetings but if you must attend you can use the following tactics to disrupt your business’ meeting routine: