Let’s Talk About Meetings

We all love to hate them but what can we do to actually make them better

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
5 min readApr 14, 2019


There is a lot of talk about meetings these days. And almost all of it is negative.

The upshot of this discussion is that meetings don’t “fit” with a digital culture. They are an outdated relic of a disappearing world.

Meetings are time-consuming and slow (they are a distraction from “real work”). Meetings are rarely productive (they tend to confirm the status quo). And meetings are never open and free (they reinforce existing hierarchical power structures within an organization and the “best idea” rarely wins).

In short, meetings kill entrepreneurship and innovation. In a digital age, meetings are a recipe for disaster.

The End of Meetings?

To a large extent, this negative view of meetings is true. I am involved in several different types of organization (business, government and education) and have similar experiences in all of them.

And it isn’t only the meetings themselves. It’s trying to get back to work after the meeting is over. I have attended too many meetings that were real energy-killers.

So, I can understand that companies — in particular — try to do something about it. They don’t “do” meetings anymore. Or they seek to mitigate the negative effects by only allowing meeting sessions at the end of a business day. They limit the time people can meet. They reduce the number of meeting rooms. I have even heard of instances where people could only meet while standing.

But are these measures the right way to go?

It may come as a surprise, but my answer is no.

We all need meetings. And particularly the most innovative and agile companies.

Face-to-face interactions remain essential, even in a digital age.

In a time, where teamwork and the open exchange of ideas have become more critical than ever, we have to preserve such a face-to-face environment and the unique experience for co-creation that a meeting offers. Everyone involved needs to recognize the value of providing a meeting place and time…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.