Meetings need a purpose.
Meetings with agendas can still be a waste of time.
So how do you know if you have a meeting with a purpose, or just an agenda? There are a number of warning signs:
If you can't say what the meeting is for in under 2 sentences, it's probably purposeless.
- Good: "The meeting is for triaging potential release blockers." This is good because you're accomplishing a necessary business and software release task.
- Bad: "We get all the departments together for status." This is bad because "status" is not useful to anyone by itself. Yes, communication is good, but only when it's accomplishing something.
If a meeting has the same agenda for months, it may be purposeless.
This one isn't universally true (see daily standups, for example), but a meeting with an unchanging agenda can indicate a following of form over function. Good meetings dynamically handle changing circumstances and needs, and you don't get that if you're stuck in an agenda. It may also be a sign that the meeting organizer and/or meeting attendees aren't paying attention and is just going through the motions.
When you're planning how to spend your time, and considering whether a meeting is useful, ask yourself whether it has a purpose, or just an agenda. No purpose, no reason to go.