3 Steps How Anyone Can Reduce Non-Value-Adding Meetings

Are you also tired of back-to-back meetings that leave you drained at the end of the day? The “this meeting could have been an email” memes started as a joke, but there’s so much truth to it. Zoom fatigue is a real concern for many professionals in today's remote/hybrid work environment. It’s not coming as a surprise that too many meetings hinders our productivity and wellbeing - we’ve all experienced it enough times.
It might not always be in your full control which meetings to attend or not. However, there are questions ANYONE, if you are the meeting organizer or not, can ask themselves to reflect on the real value or need of a meeting.
Obviously not all meetings are bad. In fact, some are really necessary to ensure the success of a project, product and company. So let’s make sure we focus on value-adding meetings.
In this blog post, we're going to explore three practical steps to help you reduce the number of non-value-adding meetings and make sure the meetings we do conduct increase our energy.

Step 1: Ask yourself: Could this meeting be an email? (Seriously ;)

Does this meeting really need to happen? In order to truly value our colleagues’ and our own time, we can ask ourselves this questions before every meeting.
If you’re the meeting organizer, make sure you can clearly articulate the primary goal of the meeting and what the desired outcomes are. If you're not able to do this, reconsider whether the meeting is necessary.
If a meeting’s purpose is not one of the following three things: collaborate, make decisions or solve urgent problems - then it’s probably better to turn it into an email instead. Good-bye to all the dreaded status update meetings.
Pro tip: The daily standup meeting is considered an important ritual in many agile teams. But if they end up in pure status updates where blockers are rarely discussed, it’s a waste of time. And if your underlying purpose of the standup is actually culture building, then rebuild a meeting to focus on culture instead.

Step 2: Evaluate if all attendees are needed and leave a meeting if you’re not contributing

It’s a fact that we generally tend to over-invite attendees to meetings. Sometimes we invite entire departments without even thinking about it, or to be inclusive. Each participant adds to the complexity and duration of the meeting and large meetings discourage debate.
So to reduce non-value-adding meetings, carefully evaluate who needs to be there. It’s actually kinder and more respectful of one’s time to only invite a person if they can directly contribute to the meeting's objectives.
If you’re invited to a meeting and feel like you are not needed, you can kindly communicate that to the meeting organizer. Instead of simply clicking “decline,” it would be valuable to include an explanation to help the meeting organizer better understand your decision.
It was actually Elon Musk who once shared with his employees: “It’s not rude to leave a meeting. But it’s rude to waste people’s time.”
Pro tip: To keep non-attendees informed, consider recording the meeting and sharing it with them after. You could also ask them to submit their thoughts ahead of time so the meeting attendees can still hear their perspectives.

Step 3: Ensure there is a clear agenda and timeline

Once a meeting is set, ensure that everyone will get value and energy from it. Include an agenda in the invitation so people can decide for themselves if they should be there and, if not, they could decline or suggest someone else. Again, if you can’t describe what you will be doing in the meeting, that’s a sign that holding it would not be a good use of everyone’s time.
If you’re invited to the meeting and there is no clear goal and agenda, you could kindly flag that to the meeting organizer. It shows that you respect everyone’s time.
And by the way, the less meeting invites you send, the fewer you will receive. People take their cues from everyone. If you start sending the “Let’s quickly jump on a call” request on the group chat, so will your coworkers. Talking about group chats, we’ve written about a good Slack etiquette in our blog post on How to Tame Slack.
Pro tip: Especially if a meeting has been scheduled several months ago and is still recurring, the original purpose of the meeting might not be valid anymore. Embrace asynchronous communication if the goal of the meeting is to just to inform.


Zoom fatigue is a real issue, and excessive meetings can take a toll on your team's productivity. By following the above described steps, you can reduce the number of unnecessary meetings and create a more effective, focused and enjoyable work environment.
At beams, we're committed to helping you optimize your own and your team's mindful productivity. To get started, you can get your personalised report on how healthy your calendar looks like with our Calendar Health Check.