Tell me again, Why Was I Invited To This Meeting?

Do you work with someone who is double-booked for multiple meetings every day? Can you hear them right now… complaining about how they never get anything done because they are in meetings all day?

What keeps them from being able to manage their schedule?

If you were in their shoes, what would you do to improve this? What would you say if I told you there was a Silver Bullet to being over-subscribed to meetings, and this silver bullet would require “No Additional Effort” on your part?

Wait for it…
Wait for it…
You still waiting on that Silver Bullet?Too Bad… Repeat after me:


You can, however, learn to build a better understanding of:

  1. The sources of inviting people to meeting.
  2. The reasons why you should attend a meeting.

Being able to understand these two items will help you build the insights to improve the culture of you and those around you to help you better organize, attend, and contribute to meetings.

The following are the reasons why you get invited to meetings.  As you think about meetings, use these to determine if you should attend and what you should be contributing to the meeting.

The Seven Reasons You Were Invited to A Meeting:

#1 You are an Approver/Decision Maker

If you are a key Approver or Decision maker, you will find yourself in a lot more meetings.  This is especially true if you are unable to delegate any of your decision making responsibilities to your team members.

If you are an approver or decision maker, the meeting is dependent on you attendance,  be sure to let the organizer know in advance if you need him to reschedule the meeting.

#2 You a contributor for the meeting

You fall into this category if you bring expertise or data to the discussion that would not be possible without you there.

Note:  if you are just reciting your numbers/status/figures, you could most likely just email those to the organizer in advance of the meeting and see if they still need you in attendance:

Bob, here are my numbers for the second quarter, they are pretty consistent with the estimates.  Please review and let me know if you need me to attend the meeting.  I am pretty swamped right now, but I can make the meeting if you need Detailed Analysis on the reports.  Let me know, thanks…

#3 You may be impacted by the outcome of the meeting

– If you have a stake in the decisions and direction coming out of the meeting you fall into this category.

If you work in a company culture where no one takes meeting minutes or tracks items coming out of meetings, you are going to find yourself attending a lot more meetings than you need to.   To help be able to decline these meetings, I suggest emailing the organizer:

Bob, I am not going to be in attendance for this meeting, but I am definitely interested in the outcome.  Can you be sure to email me the meeting notes, decisions, and action items from this meeting.

#4 You are the organizer of the meeting

If you are the organizer of the meeting you should always attend.  In general the organizer is also the moderator for the meeting.  As the organizer you are responsible for taking notes or assigning a note taker.  When you create you meeting invite, be sure to invite the correct decision makers and contributors.

For people who are impacted by the outcome of the meeting, invite them as optional and state in the invite:

“I added a number of you as optional to this meeting, if you are options I do not expect you to attend but I wanted to be sure you are include on any notes, decisions, and action items coming out of this meeting. Thanks… Bob. “

#5 You like to attend meetings to avoid work

I can’t really offer any guidance here… you might want to look for a job in the government.

#6 People like to have you around

This reason to be invited to meetings sounds kinda weird, but it does happen.   Sometimes, people will actually think things such as:

“Sue is well spoken, we should add her to this meeting…” or
“Adam always seems to brainstorm good points during discussions, lets add him to the invite…” or
“I need someone good to take notes…. Brian is always real organized… let me invite him”

I can hear you now saying that this never happens… but it does… I have sat through too many meetings with randomly invited people who had nothing direct to contribute to the meeting.   If you do not fall into the first 4 groups above, I recommend that you decline the meeting  (unless you fall into group #5)

#7 Your Boss invited you but didn’t give you any details about the meeting

I am sure that this has happened to you,  you received a forwarded meeting invite from your boss for “Quarterly Group Discussion Meeting”…  the meeting invite had no agenda and the title doesn’t even tell you what group it is for, your boss didn’t even put a note about why he forwarded it… Should You Attend??? It Depends, the first thing I would do is to reply back to you boss:

 “Bob, I am pretty busy focusing on project XYZ that is due in two weeks;  Can you provide some context to help me understanding if my attendance is critical in this meeting.   Also,  can you ask the organizer if they can pass along the meeting agenda to me? Thanks…”   

Does this sound Passive Aggressive to you? Good… it was supposed to.

If you send enough of these replies back to you bosses, they will eventually start to include details in the forwards (or they will stop trying to offload meetings to you.)

NEXT STEPS:Ok, you are now armed with the seven reasons why you might have been invited to a meeting. I would like you to go to your calendar for this week and see if any of your meetings fall into Reasons #3, #6, or #7… please decline them and get back to Getting Things Done.

Image source:   Awesome story by Michael Briggs about casting his own silver bullets… check it out:

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