10 Signs that You Need to Cancel a Meeting

“Shoot me now.”      ~Typical Meeting Participant


I was in a board meeting recently with fifteen professionals who were volunteering their time to the betterment of their city.  There was no agenda for this meeting.  We were there for two and a half hours.

It was an expensive investment with few outcomes.


Expensive, you ask?  Yes.  Every meeting has a monetary value.  It is the average hourly rate of all the participants multiplied by the length of the meeting.  I estimate that the cost of the above-mentioned gathering was around $5,700.


Most successful organizations budget their money meticulously.  Almost every dollar is accounted for.  Yet, company decision-makers will “spend” thousands of dollars a day on meetings with little thought for the return on investment (ROI).


If you are a decision-maker, it is imperative to practice good meeting management techniques.  You likely know what these things are already.


A rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want to attend one of your meetings, others wouldn’t want to be there either.


See the list below for some warning signs that your meeting will have a low ROI.


Ten Signs that You Need to Cancel a Meeting:


  1. The meeting is being held because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”
  2. There are no decisions that need to be made
  3. You don’t really know who will show up
  4. The outcomes are undetermined and unpredictable
  5. There was zero prep work for anybody for the meeting
  6. It is an information-only or roundtable-type meeting
  7. No one is assigned to take and distribute meeting notes
  8. You haven’t communicated the meeting expectations to the participants
  9. You have to beg others for agenda items
  10. The only reason you are having it is because it is already on your calendar


Cancelling a meeting due to any of the reasons above requires setting aside your fear of looking disorganized.  It’s hard to admit defeat.


However, we’ve all been in situations where a facilitator looks even more ineffective by plowing forward with a meeting that should not have happened in the first place.  So, don’t ignore the warning signs.


Once you have taken a deep breath and cancelled a meeting, the next step is to think about what you need to do differently going forward.  Does the meeting need to be restructured or removed permanently?


Think about the expense of the meeting, the anticipated outcomes.  Budget for time just like you budget for money.

Love Your Calendar eBook

Are you ready to feel balanced and effective at work and in life?

Read my eBook Love Your Calendar…and be monogamous.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like what you read?

Get new posts directly in your inbox!

You might also like these posts…

Enjoying these posts? Make sure you dont miss any!

If you enjoy my blog posts and want to make sure you never miss one - sign up for my newsletter! When you do, you'll also get instant access to my FREE webinar on interruptions in the workplace.

Interruptions can kill productivity. With one “Got a minute?” from a coworker or one stray thought swirling in your brain, the flow of your work can be completely disrupted.

The trouble is that few people have concrete strategies to get back on task quickly after an interruption. Some people completely lose focus…for hours! If you have tried reducing interruptions, but they still impact your ability to be effective at work, this free webinar is for you.