You know what sucks? Meetings.

You know what sucks? Meetings.
Photo by Andres Garcia / Unsplash

Out of 100 meetings, 95 are completely useless and a pure loss of time. 5 are actually useful!

2 years ago I killed 5 innocents, to get rid of 95 murderers...

I removed all meetings at Sparkmate.

On average, meetings were actually a waste of time - a burden for my team and really bad for my team's communication health.

If you want to start having a high performance team, you need to kill meetings.

And I have 5 specific reasons why:

Meetings equal bad internal communication:

You may be thinking that meetings are a great way to share information. They're actually not.

The more internal meetings a team makes, the more its information flow and knowledge management is broken.

Meetings are not a substitute for communication, they can only supplement it.

Most companies use meetings as a fix for their broken communication... And it's a bit like a vicious cycle.

The more they have a broken organisation the more they break it by adding even more meetings...

If you want to get people up-to-date with what's happening inside and outside of your org, you need to focus on implementing a good system and knowledge management solutions!

These are my go-to tools to actually streamline internal communications:

  • Workplace by Meta: Workplace is two products bundled in one. Workplace (Facebook but for work) and Workchat (Messenger but for work). Asynchronous communication and instant communication (also comes with a knowledge library 🤯)
  • A meeting can be replaced by an email, but sometimes an email is not enough. Tella helps you create stunning and clear videos to explain what you have in mind.
  • Google Workspace and CloudSearch: Do you love google? When you don't know something you google it, right? Cloudsearch brings the power of Google search to crawl your company data. Drive, Docs, Email, Calendar, everything, it's amazing!
How Cloud Search looks from the user's point of view

The worst enemies of async

Meetings are the worst enemies of async. From their inception, meetings have always been intended for synchronous communication.

But here's what happens when you try to use meetings for asynchronous communication: all hell breaks loose!

Meetings are slow, inefficient, and often painful experiences because they don't account for how our culture has changed since they were invented centuries ago.

Most people today communicate by texting, emailing, messaging on social media—and even talking over the phone (Who still does that?! We send voice notes over Whatsapp when we want to speak haha).

These methods allow us to continue doing our work while keeping up with other people’s lives at the same time.

They remove friction from traditional face-to-face interactions because they aren't restricted by rigid schedules like in-person meetings tend to be.

When you want to go full async it's a question of culture. Here is an extract from our onboarding doc that states how communication is for the newcomers, feel free to use them for your team ;)

1. English is our jam.
All communications are made in english (internal and external), you don't know who will pick up the subject.
2. Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.
Don't overestimate and overuse chats. It pushes fast answers and doesn't allow time to structure thoughts.
3. Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone.
That includes people who couldn't make it or future people that join Sparkmate later.
4. Don't expect or require someone to get back to you immediately unless it’s a true emergency.
The expectation of immediate response is toxic and is also a huge distraction, it kills focus.

Doing things >> Talking about doing things

Meetings are a drain on efficiency and productivity. In fact, they’re completely counterproductive.

Even if there is a potential for ideas or learning happening during a meeting, it is not nearly as effective as actually doing something together.

At Sparkmate, we say that a prototype is worth thousands of meetings, drawings and words combined.

All communications that aren’t grounded with a prototype or a tangible asset are a terrible waste of time.

Instead of sitting around talking about what needs to be done or not getting anything done at all, you should be building.

A great way to do this is to incorporate collaborative building times:

  • Get your team in small groups (no more than 3) in a place where they are actually building together, working on the same thing.
  • It's way more powerful than a meeting, knowledge travels faster when doing 😉
  • If you have a full remote team, depending on what you do you can use tools like codeanywhere, tailscale, or google workspace can help you to live collaborate
Why debugging shouldn't be fun haha

It's a bad investment

Meetings cost you time, money, and focus. It’s a fact that meetings are incredibly expensive.

Remember that 5 people in a room for an hour isn't a one hour meeting, it's a five hour meeting. I let you make calculations with your hourly rate!

Just think about how much money your company spends on meetings every year!

I prefer to invest all that wasted time into something else like training or creating content that will serve others later!

Speaking helps whoever is in the room, writing helps everyone ;)

Just test it by yourself. Force anyone in your team to not say things twice.

Invest all the time you are spending doing meetings into creating good asynchronous practices:

  • Write goals down.
  • Discuss ideas with comments and messages.
  • Make docs to compare options.
  • Make it obvious which solution or direction you take.
  • Use dedicated channels / groups / chats to ask questions or ask for help.

Gathering the team should be fun!

Meetings are always boring, and they rarely serve any purpose other than gathering everyone together in one place at the same time.

Spending time in teams is essential, it’s a growth enabler! It strengthens the culture.

But meetings are the worst way to gather a team.

If you want to spend time with your team and make them feel like they’re part of something that matters, do something fun instead.

We initiated team gatherings on "non work" things such as:

  • Off-site trips. To the mountains for skiing, to the beach for chilling...
  • Wakeboard/Wakesurf days. Get the team on a boat for a day.
  • Factory visits. We are lucky to work with partners that host us
  • (Massive) Parties in the offices.  Get the disco ball out and have fun for the night.
  • Sports contests. Get on the field and play together in teams.
  • and many more...

Gather your team? Yes! But why would you do it in a boring environment like a meeting room? A big table full of food at a restaurant is way better no?  😋

One of those Spark trips

So, ditch meetings. I know this is a bold statement, but it's true.

Meetings are one of the biggest time wasters in business.

They're expensive, they fill your schedule with unnecessary stress and most importantly they don't actually help anyone accomplish anything!

You remember the 5 innocents from the intro?

Make sure your processes allow you to keep the upsides of the 5 innocents and kill the downside of the 95 others.

If you start running your company without any meetings, let me know.

I'd love to connect with you (and see what you have implemented!).

Please share this post to anyone who needs to supercharge their team productivity!