Let’s try again. How many of you would say the meetings you attend are boring, energy-draining, and a terrible waste of time?
Think of the last meeting you attended. Are any of the following the best you can say about it?
- Well, I have to admit we ended on time.
- Yes, we avoided making a critical decision, but at least (insert name here) was absent.
- For some reason, (insert name here) didn’t go ballistic when (insert topic here) was brought up.
There are many reasons cited to explain why meetings fail, and they’re all correct. Meetings do need agendas, the right people, time limits, a good decision-making process, and so on. What I find amusing is that when you ask people, they know why the meetings they attend are so bad.
But they continue happening, because no one does anything about it.
Here’s my idea about why most meetings are so bad: they are boring. Mind-suckingly boring.
- They occur in the same room over and over.
- They occur at the same time over and over.
- They have the same standing agenda, created when there were dinosaurs and still used in the 21st century.
- Everyone sits in the same seats.
- Everyone ignores the elephants in the room (for instance, how <insert name here> constantly talks too much, or <insert name here> never has anything to contribute>)
Are all meetings like this? Of course not. But then again, not all meetings are boring.
If you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep on getting what you’re getting.
Want less boring meetings?
- Don’t meet.
- Meet somewhere else from time to time.
- Meet at different times.
- Meet less frequently.
- Create a new agenda for each meeting.
- Challenge your unspoken ground rules about meeting participation.
- Do something different every time.
- Hold the meeting standing up.
- Hold it outside.
- Have everyone sit with their backs facing the conference table.
- Do something unpredictable and different. Start with an ice-breaker. Have everyone complete and share this sentence: “Working here is like (blank) because (blank).” Or how about “These meetings are like (blank) because (blank)”?