The best use of technology for when you’ve got to go to a meeting is pulling the battery out of the back of your phone. Or ‘accidentally’ thumbing it into Airplane Mode. That’s not David Sparks’s advice, though I’ve read his books and he’s as up for avoiding unnecessary meetings as I am. Assuming that you want to go to them and you want to get things out of ’em too, he has recommendations.
There is a certain dance that goes on between people trying to set a meeting via email that makes me crazy:
David to Hans: “Let’s do lunch”
Hans to David: “Great. When is good?”
David to Hans: “I’m not sure. You go first.”
Hans to David: “I’ve got some time next week.”
David to Hans: “How about Tuesday at noon.”
Hans to David: “That doesn’t work. Give me another day.”
This just goes on and on. Instead, when I’m setting a meeting with a single person, I write and say, “Let’s have lunch together. How about next Wednesday at Cardiac’s House of Cheese at 11:45AM?” By putting not only the idea of lunch in the first email but also the details, I’m usually able to cut out a lot of later email traffic. The surprising thing is that most people accept my proposal in their very first reply.
Since the day I read that in a book or I heard the fella say it on the MacPowerUsers podcast, I have done exactly that and it has worked for me exactly like that.
Try his other three suggestions, though: they cover scheduling meetings, preparing time for them and also a very nifty TextExpander way of writing emails reminding people about the meeting and its agenda.