The 2016 school year is in full swing. I bet you missed your friends, your teams, your favorite college undertakings and maybe even your studies. However, I guarantee you did not miss those pain-staking, numb numbing, seemingly pointless meetings you “get,” to attend. Meetings can almost seem like a penalty for being involved. Sometimes, you just sit there thinking about how much you have to do; watching the clock tick away as your stress level rises. You think “this could have taken 5 minutes,” but there’s always that one person who loves to hear themselves talk. Or better yet, people get side tracked and start talking about irrelevant junk. After you know it, you’ve been sitting in a meeting for an hour and nothing has been accomplished. If you’re sick of getting your soul sucked out during boring meetings; read on to help stop “death by meetings.”

If you’re leading the meeting:

  • Be aware of the time. Before you schedule your meeting, weigh your opportunity cost. If you or your members would benefit more from not having a meeting; then simply wait to have the meeting when it is more necessary. Anyways, it’s statistically proven that the human focus is most sharp for 45 minutes. Anything longer should be separated by breaks.
  • Do you even need to have the meeting? In the era of email, GroupMe, Skype, Survey Monkey and online document sharing, you can eliminate a ton of a time you spend sitting in meetings. However, you can’t always replace face-to-face interaction. For example, if you need to brain-storm, be creative or solve problems you should organize a meeting.
  • Don’t invite everyone. Only invite the people who you know will contribute to the task at hand. Plus, the attendees might feel valued and know that their presence has been intentionally requested. This will lead to a richer, more productive discussion.
  • Get straight to the point and stick to the agenda. Just like with anything else, having a plan before going into a meeting helps you stay on track. This also helps you avoid being long-winded.

If you’re attending the meeting:

  • Don’t be that person who derails a conversation by injecting a discussion with unrelated junk. People would love to talk to you about your weekend, your pet or whatever; just not in the middle of a meeting. Doing so is like being a pop-up ad on the web. That’s annoying.
  • Don’t do other work during the meeting. If you catch yourself preoccupied during a meeting, which probably means the subject at hand is not a high priority to you. If it is not worth your time, then maybe you should re-evaluate your level of commitment to the organization.
  • Do you know someone who just loves to hear their own voice? Don’t talk just for the sake of speaking. People rather see that you’re getting the job done than hear you talk about.