As much as possible, we should only attend meetings where we are active participants, not mere attendees with nothing to contribute to the defined outcome of the meeting. There are some exceptions to this like training sessions, educational presentations or others where the purpose for attendees is to learn something.
When I receive a meeting request, I often reply with the following text. In fact, I have it saved as a TextExpander macro as a shortcut to typing it.
May I please request the following information in advance of this meeting? It will enable me to prepare, participate and be productive in the meeting.
- What decisions need to be made at this meeting (if any)?
- What problems need to be solved at this meeting (if any)?
- What knowledge is planned to be shared at this meeting? (topics or documents)
Time Management Tip: When you receive an invite for a meeting at work where you believe you may not add much value, reply to the invite with a polite message like:
Thank you for inviting me to this meeting. It seems from the subject, agenda and attendees list that I’m not a required participant for this meeting. If I’m mistaken and my presence is required in this meeting, please accept my apologies and let me know that I should attend.
This is preferable to ignoring the meeting invite or declining without comment that may come across as rude. I have this text also saved as a TextExpander macro.
Discussion about declining meetings: https://plus.google.com/107443707510532643538/posts/inUkYy1Ufg7