How can you justify having training meetings?

After my recent webinar, “Effectively Growing Your Key Talent: Are You Sunlight and Water — or Just Manure?” I received some interesting questions. Here’s one of them.
Q: The current trend in business is to have fewer meetings, so how can a manager justify having less project/team meetings and more training meetings.
A: It’s not so much fewer meetings that should be the goal, but shorter, more effective meetings. If a meeting is well-run, it may only take 15 or 20 minutes to accomplish the task. I had one last week that accomplished all we needed in 12 minutes.
I’d really examine the purpose of the project/team meetings. If it’s only to status everyone, could that be done with a short, bulleted email to the team? Or a conference call? Or could the meetings be bi-weekly rather than weekly?
Since I abhor most meeting as they are generally poorly run and managed, I do whatever I can to get out of all but really critical ones. When I run them, they have an agenda, approx. time for each item, assignment of tasks, and deadlines. If someone goes off on a tangent, I pull them back to the topic at hand.
So if you had fewer status meetings, you’d have time for developmental sessions. That said, not all development needs to be in a group. Some learners do better by reading a book and discussing it with a peer or mentor. Others pick things up with a tutor by their side. And others do fine with online learning. There are many options to training besides a group experience, although some subjects are much better with a group.