Meetings—talking shops or changing the world?

I spend much of my working life, when I am not writing, in meetings of one sort or another. Meetings which others might describe as “talking shops”. The implied criticism in that phrase used to bother me— that all that mattered was taking action, that those who weren’t directly involved in some sort of activity were wasting their time.

It’s true. There are meetings that are a waste of time. More often than not they are the kinds of meetings that you forget why they are in the diary but go along anyway because they are a safe place to hide for a while.

But ideas are what change our world and those ideas take shape in meetings. Ideas determine what actions we take and why. Those ideas are generated, refined, and shared in meetings of whatever size from two people up to huge conferences.

The trick is to get better at working out which kind of meeting you’ve been asked to then being ruthless about not attending those that are a waste of time, and enthusiastically throwing your energy into the kind that might change the world.