We used to tell our staff that they should never attend a meeting where they don’t contribute. Or the reverse, if you’re in a meeting you should find a meaningful way to contribute, because (as consultants) the client will always wonder why they are paying non-contributors to be on a project or why their meetings are padded with non-essential people.
Now that I’ve left consulting, and I consult internally at a large organization, I wonder sometimes in meetings what those silent meeting goers are thinking and I believe their time could be better spent.
I also see two negative outgrowths of this:
First, there is the “I was invited so I came, but I’m going to work on other stuff” meeting goer.
Second, there’s the, “I’m not sure what to do so I invited a bunch of the right people to a meeting” meeting creator.
So, if the shoe fits, and you’re the laptop-open-silent-type tell us what you’re thinking and close that laptop.
And if you’re the type to just call a meeting how about working with a project manager to work up a plan first?