5 strategies for gracefully escaping a meeting that's a waste of your time

Unnecessary meetings are not only a waste of time—they're a waste of your organization's money.

And while most people find these meetings unproductive, many continue to attend because they worry that opting out will make them seem less committed, Karen Hertzberg writes for Grammarly.

However, it is possible to gracefully bow out of meetings—without hurting your reputation as a team player, she argues. Hertzberg identifies five strategies to escape your next meeting gracefully. 

1: Ask whether the meeting is justified

We all have meetings show up on our calendars that we don't actually need to attend. These meetings can impede our productivity throughout the day. Instead of attending them by default, ask the meeting organizers whether the discussion can be converted into an email or short conference call, Hertzberg writes.

5 types of meeting to cancel right now

2: Determine your role

It's not worth your time to attend meetings where you'll merely be a passive listener, Hertzberg writes. Before you commit to a meeting, ask the organizers what your role will be. If you're not expected to present anything, your presence probably isn't required, she writes.

3: Articulate your priorities

Every minute you spend in an unnecessary meeting is a minute you lose to complete your core job tasks. Articulate this tradeoff to the organizer by asking how you should prioritize your time between the meeting and your other projects, Hertzberg writes. If the meeting is a higher priority than your workload, then you'll know for certain that its one you can't miss.

4: Ask for the follow-up notes  

For most informational meetings, attendees are there to listen and learn about current projects in other departments that might affect their team. While the information may be important, your attendance probably isn't, Hertzberg argues.

Instead, ask if there are volunteers who can takes for those who are too busy to attend, she recommends. Or better yet, cancel the meeting altogether if the information can fit into an email.

Related: 7 steps to less miserable meetings

5: Leave when you're no longer needed  

Some meeting agendas only have a few components that are relevant to you. Before the meeting starts, ask the organizer if the team can address those topics first, Hertzberg writes. Then, pick a seat near the door so you aren't too distracting when you leave halfway through, she adds (Hertzberg, Grammarly, 12/14). 


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