Small meetings, if well run, are a great tool for efficiency – especially in the short term. They trade-off speed of decision making for inclusiveness.
Large meetings, if well run, are a great tool for effectiveness. While these may slow decision making, they often speed up execution in projects with lots of dependencies. Learning to run large meetings well is a valuable skill in larger organizations.
A lesson I repeatedly learn when thinking about meeting size is that the choice is binary. Either –
a) choose a small meeting, carefully control the size of the audience, don’t allow the meeting to be forwarded, and be comfortable about annoying a few people or
b) set the topic + agenda and don’t worry about the size of the meeting
A half-hearted attempt at control the size of the meeting nearly always backfires.
That’s because “medium” size meetings that involve some subset of a large group stakeholders and not others tend to be useless. They don’t end up achieving speed, inclusiveness, efficiency, or effectiveness sufficiently enough to make it worth anyone’s while.
Go small or go large. Either way, go all in.