The only reason to have a meeting

I was reading an article called The Only 3 Reasons to Have a Meeting the other day, which made me think. It said that while it’s good that meetings give people the chance to speak to each other in a formal setting, in reality the only three reasons to put people in a room together are:
1. To make a decision;
2. To share information; and
3. To brainstorm.

It’s a fair summary, but not one with which I’d necessarily agree, especially as it suggests that “making a decision” is the least compelling of the three. My own three reasons to hold a meeting would be:
1. To make a decision;
2. Er…
3. That’s it.

One reason to have a meeting, in companies where I’ve worked, appears to be to force people (through the fear of potential embarrassment) to produce those reports which they should be producing as a matter of course anyway. What then happens is that they distribute the report at the meeting, and nobody can draw any conclusions because it’s the first time they’ve seen the document or presentation. If the report had been circulated before the meeting, participants could have taken it in. But then, if there’s no subsequent discussion necessary, why is the report anything to do with the meeting anyway?

I think that every meeting agenda should have a second column, headed “…and what decision are we going to make following this item?” If there’s nothing to go in that box, should the item really be on the agenda? Or is it a subject that could be better handled by email, unconnected to the meeting?

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