Quick Tip: Getting out of an awful meeting!

Author: Andy Bounds:

When you’re invited to a meeting, it isn’t a Court Summons! You don’t have to go.

And we should all decline rubbish meetings, which’ll be a waste of our time.

Here’s a nice way to do it…

When invited to a meeting that might be rubbish, call the meeting’s owner and say:

  • Thanks for the invite. To help me prepare, please can I ask two quick questions? (Yes)
  • What outcomes do you want to achieve AFTER the meeting? (Make sure they don’t just tell you what they’re discussing DURING it)
  • How can I best contribute to these outcomes? (If they reply “I’m not sure”, say…)
  • I’m glad I checked! It sounds like I can’t contribute, so I’ll decline – I don’t want to dilute what you’re looking to achieve. But please could you send me the Actions Arising afterwards?

You’ll notice every sentence is polite. And also that the last point doesn’t ask whether I can decline (they might say no!) – instead, it asks about getting the Actions Arising.

(Of course, if you’ve been invited to a meeting by your boss’s boss, even if you think it’ll be rubbish, it might be better to just suck it up and go!)