Work meetings can be the bane of an employee’s day. Too often they drag on too long or leave us wondering: “Did I actually need to be here?”
But sometimes, the most frustrating part of a meeting happens before it even begins. How you schedule a meeting can set it up for success or guarantee confused, disengaged participants.
We asked career experts to share the rudest scheduling behaviors you could be doing to frustrate and alienate your colleagues:
1. You don’t check the availability of people invited to the meeting.
“We all know what it’s like to suddenly be double or even triple-booked because somebody put a calendar appointment right on top of one that was already there. Sometimes it’s unavoidable with big-enough groups, but if you are expecting someone you invite to have an active role in the meeting, it’s rude to not plan around their schedule, or inquire about whether or not they can miss or move what’s already there.” ―Laura Gallaher, organizational psychologist of the consulting firm Gallaher Edge
2. You schedule a meeting right before planned vacations or leave.
“This is rude because you are inconsiderate of someone else’s schedule. Your contact will be busy preparing for their departure at work and home and has many different things to think about. Scheduling a meeting at this time may make it appear as if you want to hold a meeting without having someone’s full attention on the matter at hand. Do your best to schedule meetings several days or weeks before someone’s temporary departure.” ―Rashelle Isip, productivity consultant and time management coach
3. You schedule a meeting outside of regular working hours.
“Sometimes, in an attempt to get something scheduled, you might set up a meeting outside of normal working hours. Again, sometimes this is unavoidable, especially for global companies. But if you are working within a shared time zone, and without checking, [and] you set up a calendar appointment to start at 5:30 p.m., this can feel very presumptuous. People have lives! Childless people also have lives, so be wary of the assumption that a co-worker without children can easily support an ‘after-hours’ meeting.” ―Gallaher
“It’s inconsiderate to schedule anything that is not truly urgent outside what are ‘typical’ business hours for your organization. No one should be scheduling a 5 p.m. Friday meeting unless they plan to bring appetizers and cocktails!” ―Laura Vanderkam, author of “Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters”
4. You schedule a meeting without including any context.
“If you want somebody to take an active role in a meeting, then don’t send the invite without context. They may have preparation required on their end, and they may need to coordinate with others to prepare. Check in with them first to get on the same page about what the meeting is for and why you want them to attend. Then, send the invite at a time that you have agreed upon will work for them.” ―Gallaher
5. You schedule a meeting you’re not prepared to lead.
“This is rude because you are the one who is scheduling the event and inviting other people to it. If you are scheduling a meeting, the responsibility of organizing necessary information, materials and resources related to that meeting falls under your domain. Prepare meeting items in advance so you can make the most of your time together.” ―Isip
6. You invite people to a meeting they don’t really need to attend.
“Really think through the agenda. Make sure everyone who’s invited truly needs to be there. It’s not the popular kids’ table in the middle school cafeteria so people shouldn’t just be invited so they feel cool...Have a desired outcome and figure out what everyone in the meeting should be doing for every minute that they’re there. Otherwise, this is being inconsiderate of people’s time.” ―Vanderkam
7. You schedule a meeting for what could have been an email.
“Not evaluating the true need for a meeting [is rude]. Can an email suffice? It’s a tad narcissistic to assume that everything is meeting-worthy. If what needs to be said can be said in an email, you should absolutely do so.” ―Lindsey Holmes, productivity consultant and CEO of Usable Tech Co.
8. You default to scheduling 60-minute meetings.
“Don’t automatically schedule for 60 minutes unless that’s what the meeting agenda requires. It seems a little strange that all decisions require exactly 60 minutes...and yet that tends to be the standard meeting length! If it’s quick, schedule for 30, or even 15! That’s much more considerate for everyone.” ―Vanderkam
9. You schedule meetings without accounting for how long it can take people to physically get to the meeting.
“I used to work for Kennedy Space Center, and sometimes my meetings were in buildings that were literally miles apart. If you don’t account for travel time, you can create an anxious urgency that causes key people to be late to meetings, which inconveniences everybody involved.” ―Gallaher
10. You write vague subject lines in your meeting invites.
“This last one can feel silly, but don’t send a calendar invite with only your attendee’s name on it. If somebody sends me an invite that says, ‘Lunch with Laura,’ and I’m Laura, it creates clarity for the sender, not the recipient. In fact, a best practice is to send the invite with your own name first, because as calendars get busy and compressed, even an invite that says ‘Laura + Janet: Lunch’ might still show up simply as ‘Laura’ on Laura’s calendar.” ―Gallaher