So you resisted your better judgment and went to that meeting after all. And just as you feared, it ran off the rails in the first five minutes and rambled on for another 90. It started with the usual awkward silence, but was soon filled by the guy from down the hall droning on and on about GAAP or something. GAASbag was more like it. You shouldn’t have been surprised. It happens way too often. In fact, I just read an article which said bad meetings are usually the result of one of three things. But when I did an unscientific poll with my colleagues and friends, we came up with 29 things.
And Here They Are, In No Special Order
1) No need for a meeting in the first place. It all could’ve been handled with an email or two. 2) Not starting on time. If people are routinely coming late to your meetings, seriously consider disinviting them. 3) Not having a real agenda. As in “I’d like to meet to talk about where we might be headed if the proposed initiatives are ever implemented.” 4) The right people aren’t in the meeting. You’re discussing Customer Service challenges, but the CS staff is too busy to leave the phones and come to the meeting. 5) The wrong people are in the meeting. In the event the meeting produces a solution, there’s no one in the room who has the authority to implement it. 6) Too many people in the meeting. This is supposed to be a meeting, not a convention. 7) The guy who won’t shut up. Need I say more? 8) The meeting leader lacks the skill to engage everyone in the discussion. This is especially true when the person holding the meeting doubles as the “guy who won’t shut up.” 9) The meeting leader is just winging it. Fifteen minutes into the meeting everyone is looking for a reason to bail. 10) People protecting their own turf. The meeting is one long stalemate where no one compromises if it affects their department. 11) Not being prepared. Just because you were conscientious enough to put the meeting on everyone’s Google Calendar a month ago, please cancel if you haven’t yet pulled together all the needed information. 12) No one knows why they are meeting. This is a big problem when you’ve read the agenda and you still don’t have any idea why you’re meeting. 13) Technical difficulties. Wasn’t IT supposed to have already set up this stupid WebShareMeeting tool? Ugh! 14) Showboating. IT actually set up that WebShareMeeting tool – and now feels compelled to demonstrate how all 31 functions work. 15) The hour-long meeting (Part 1). Ever notice that a meeting scheduled for an hour never ends after only 45 minutes? It’s a TRUE miracle of modern business scheduling. 16) The hour-long meeting (Part 2). And that you’re not surprised when the meeting lasts 90 minutes — as if everyone didn’t have something else they needed to do. 17) Electronic distractions. People are constantly checking their phones, texting, or surfing away on their laptops and tablets. Of course, you can’t blame them when the meeting leader is up there “winging it.” 18) Non-electronic distractions. When meeting attendees resort to the old-fashioned technique of whispering and giggling with each other on the side. 19) The routine meeting. “We always meet at this time every week whether we need to have a meeting or not.” 20) Trying to accomplish too much. The best meetings have one clear focal point. 21) You didn’t bring the right stuff. You forgot to bring your (notes, tools, data) to the meeting. 22) People wander off on tangents. What started as an announcement that you hired a new creative director, ended with what type of microwave to get to the replace the burned-out one in the breakroom. 23) Introducing new subjects that don’t belong in this meeting. (A variation of point No. 22 above.) 24) Lack of candor. This can happen for all the best of intentions. For example, you really just want to say that something didn’t get done well because the people responsible are awful at it — but you can’t. 25) The “Ground Hog Day” phenomenon. You seem to have the same meeting over and over, week after week, because no one was held accountable to carry out the decisions made in the last meeting. 26) No follow-up after the meeting. This is particularly true of meetings that run into lunch, run late into the day, or occur anytime on Friday. 27) Poor communication beforehand. The invite and emails to attendees before the meeting didn’t adequately outline what was expected of them during the meeting. 28) No one is really sure what was decided at the meeting, if anything. And if nothing was going to get decided, then why were you meeting in the first place? 29) And, finally, the meeting was actually a meeting about other meetings.