3 Questions to Ask Before Any Workplace Meetings

As a professional, your job is to output. You want to think bigger to solve complex problems and advance the business. Your job to prioritize. This applies to everyone regardless of role. Your job is not to blindly attend all meetings. Yes, such a busy day, so many meetings... but are you productive? I'm sharing 3 questions to ask before you attend any workplace meetings.

"Zoom Fatigue" has become a thing ever since the Covid19 pandemic started. HBR reported that people attended 13% more meetings. I'd never argue against that because I find myself attending more "quick catch ups". Unfortunately, some "quick catch ups" are to confirm things that could be achieved in manner of 10 seconds over an email.

I am not against meetings but I am asking you to be conscious of how you are spending time, and what type of meetings you are walking into.

Some meetings are very important. Sometimes urgent, sometimes not. They pave the way for business priorities. Attend them. They are important.

Some meetings are for building relationship. They usually are packaged in the form of "coffee catch ups". There is no clear immediate outcome but we establish the network to reach out to each other for occasion. Coffee catch ups are necessarily bad but you should have the awareness of what purpose that meeting serve. If you are having a busy week with multiple looming deadlines, it's best to reschedule.

These are the 3 questions you should ask before attending any workplace meetings.

1. What outcome do you want from this meeting?

This question focuses on output, a clear deliverable.

2. What's the next action step?

Post meeting, there should be follow ups. What are they?

It's best to document in an email or shared note so that everyone is on the same page on follow up actions.

If we don't follow up, the meeting itself is a waste of time.

3. Do you need me to be present?

As a leader, I am often invited to meetings to "be in the loop".

Any good meetings would have a follow up action (see 2, above). If you are invited for the sake of being "in the loop", maybe it's better to just ask for the recap email.

In Japan in particular, I am invited to meetings to help make decision because of my role.

It really depends on the situation. If possible, my preferred style is to coach my team members so that they are empowered to make decisions on my behalf. Sometimes it works out very well, sometimes not so. Regardless, it will be good learning experience. You learn to make better decision in future. You also shape better business acumen.

Those are 3 simple questions but I hope this would give you back more time to achieve the bigger milestones. Or, to regain back some sanity into your day.