Consequences of ineffective meetings.


Your brain feels fried. Another day filled with countless meetings. One meeting seemed to last forever, and everyone kept repeating themselves. You mentally checked out halfway through. You have no idea what the conclusion or purpose was. Tomorrow, you'll be more productive again...

The term "Meeting fatigue" has become more common as we've shifted to having numerous online appointments. It's also referred to as "Zoom fatigue" since it has intensified with the rise of remote work. Whether the meetings are face-to-face or via platforms like Teams, Meeting fatigue is prevalent in both cases. It contributes to stress, reduced effectiveness, and satisfaction.

We'll explore a few reasons why this happens and provide tips on how you and your colleagues can prevent it:

Too many and too long.

Obvious but excessive meetings lead to multiple issues. During the pandemic, the number of meetings increased by 20% according to Harvard, and while it hasn't remained that high, the meeting count is still 13.5% higher than before the pandemic.

This means there's less time to accomplish the same amount of work. Employees might feel stressed, guilty, or try to compensate by working overtime. In the long run, this isn't beneficial for individuals or the company.

Another contributing factor is that meetings often go longer than necessary. This might be due to a lack of clear objectives. Discussions unintentionally drag on, and conversations go in circles. Lengthy meetings are costly, sapping everyone's energy and focus that they'd rather devote to meaningful work.


  • Carefully assess if you need to attend all the meetings you're invited to. If unsure, inquire with the sender about the necessity.
  • Reserve work blocks in your calendar and don't forget to schedule breaks and lunch.
  • Discuss with your team or manager if there are ways to address this issue. For instance, consider not scheduling meetings during two afternoons a week, reserving that time for focused work.

No breaks = no focus

Meetings are often scheduled back-to-back. The lack of breaks contributes significantly to meeting fatigue. Participants have no time to recuperate, process information, and prepare for the next meeting. This becomes overwhelming and leads to tension once again.

This is also referred to as Meeting Recovery Syndrome (MRS). Everyone needs time to recover from an intensive meeting. For meetings that aren't efficient and goal-oriented, the recovery time is even longer. The consequence is that employees spend a significant part of their day recovering before they can fully focus on tasks. This recovery period might even extend to the next day, especially after a long day filled with meetings.


  • Schedule blocks after your meetings to take a breather. This could be around 10 to 15 minutes. Stretch your legs and take a short walk.
  • When a meeting lacks a clear objective, take the initiative. Inquire about the purpose and desired outcomes, and ensure the teams stays focused on these points.
  • Allocate recovery and focus time in your calendar to create space for your work process.

Not inclusive

When meetings are not inclusive and fail to consider differences, it's possible that some individuals dominate the conversation while others don't get a chance to speak. This might occur because people are unintentionally biased, the meeting structure doesn't allow equal participation or there are dominant participants.

This can lead to frustration and stress surrounding meetings. Additionally, it could create long-term tensions among colleagues.

In addition to the significance for employees' mental well-being, from a business perspective, this is a missed opportunity. Embracing diverse input allows you to better serve all your customers, and possibly even reach customers you otherwise wouldn't have.


  • Make sure that the meeting is setup so that participant cannot avoid interaction and allows every participant to be heard. Workshop methodologies are often suitable for this purpose.
  • Be vigilant about colleagues who haven't had a chance to speak or who are continuously interrupted.
  • Address this and explicitly provide the colleague an opportunity to contribute. Discuss this within your team to ensure consistent attention to this matter.


Sometimes, a meeting isn't the right tool for the desired objective. Meetings are suitable for reviews or sharing information. When it comes to collaboration, well-prepared workshops are more appropriate. This prevents endless discussion about a problem and ensures that steps are taken to resolve the issue.

In this context, it's crucial that workshops are structured in a way that produces tangible outcomes. Otherwise, the workshop might be enjoyable, but it still doesn't achieve the desired result.

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