Meetings Are Not Supposed To Be Worth Your TimePosted: March 21, 2013
Last week I was planning to take two separate day trips to DC because I had meetings on Monday and Wednesday and I had to come home in between to go to jury duty. And no, I could not postpone my jury duty because after you’ve postponed it three times and completely missed it two other times they threaten to fine you and you lose the right to fulfill your civic obligation at your own convenience. The nice man on the phone told me this.
After a long day of meetings on Monday the guy I’m working for in DC told me that I didn’t need to come back down on Wednesday because it was a lot of travel (and he funds my travel, so if he tells me not to travel I have to listen) and it “wouldn’t be worth my time”. This struck me as odd because the vast majority of meetings I go to are not worth my time.
So I said, “Since when has a meeting ever been worth anybody’s time”?
This was the wrong thing to say because he stood there looking confused for a second, and then reminded me that the meeting we had gone to that morning had been worth my time. I couldn’t disagree because I got to talk for almost an entire hour nonstop in that meeting, and any situation that allows me to talk for an entire hour nonstop is definitely worth my time. But we were clearly not on the same page about the meeting thing, so I cut my losses and just said “yeah, you’re right”, because I knew that would end the conversation quickly and I wanted to go have a beer at the airport.
The thing is, I really didn’t need to go to the meeting, and objectively it wasn’t worth flying down for. But I still wanted to go. The meeting was a quarterly briefing to our director and I think it’s important for my team to be represented at this kind of thing because it demonstrates our commitment to the program and increases our visibility. Not showing up to a meeting like this sends the message that we’re not a critical piece of the puzzle… or that we just don’t care.
Saying that you shouldn’t attend a meeting because it won’t be worth your time is completely missing the point, because a meeting will never be won’t be worth your time unless you make it worth your time by showing up and contributing. Meetings are opportunities to market yourself and demonstrate your worth, and these are things that are always worth your time. This doesn’t mean that you should just start showing up to a bunch of random meetings; if you can’t contribute to the meeting in a meaningful way, then you probably don’t need to go.
I ended up getting in trouble for not attending the meeting because somebody who did attend mentioned to my CEO in an email that it would have been good if I had been there. So of course the email trickled down to me, and or course I forwarded it to the guy who told me not to come to the meeting and said, “Look. You got me in trouble”. To which he replied, “Well, it wouldn’t have been worth your time”.
… I didn’t respond.