‘A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost ...’
Don’t you sometimes think life’s too short for pointless meetings ruminating over the best way to do things rather than actually doing them?
It seems I’m not the only one who feels this way as research has revealed the average British worker will sit through almost 10,000 meetings in their career – but believe half of them are utterly useless.
Some have even confessed to being so bored during meetings, they have actually nodded off.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not averse to meetings which actually have a genuine purpose and impart useful information.
And brainstorming meetings can be really fruitful – as long as the ideas discussed are actually put into action rather than remaining as visions.
It’s meaningless meetings I object to where time is needlessly wasted talking incessantly about things but not actually achieving anything.
My problem is I’m not very patient – in my book impatience is a virtue.
And like many others, I am a “do-er” rather than a procrastinator and while I like to talk, I’d rather be doing things than talking about the things I’d like to do.
There’s nothing worse than being sat in a tedious meeting worrying about all the work you’ve got to do when it’s eventually over.
This is where the frustration lies for many workers and while I’m lucky enough not to face many futile meetings in my workplace, a lot of my friends – especially those working in the public sector – complain their life is full of endless meetings discussing inane matters and there’s sometimes even meetings about meetings.
Frankly, I think some people just enjoy holding meetings for the sake of them. Hearing the sound of their own voice makes them feel important and a way of trying to justify their often inflated salary.
Being a journalist, I’m also fully aware how meetings are sometimes used by organisations and officials as an evasion and avoidance technique to squirm their way out of answering an awkward question - or getting out of actually having to do some work.
Many a time I’ve called someone for the umpteenth time only to be told: “I’m afraid he/she is in a meeting.” “What, for the last six weeks?”
It can be useful if you’re faced with a time-waster as you can tell them you “have a meeting in a few minutes”.
But even humdrum meetings can have a silver lining... in the form of food. If food and drinks are laid on, it can liven up the most mundane of meetings.
Munching sandwiches and chocolate biscuits can suddenly make you think: “Maybe these meetings aren’t so bad after all.”
However, the food has to be of decent quality. Not just plain digestives and boring egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Maybe there should be a meeting to discuss the best food to serve at meetings?
Much as I love my food, I still believe actions speak louder than meetings.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who will carry on organising meetings until they get to the bottom of why there isn’t enough work being done.