How to Have Meetings Everybody Hates

Did you roll your eyes the last time someone said, “Let’s have a meeting to discuss that issue?” You’re not alone. You’d think after all these years we’d be pretty good at having productive meetings. But we’re not. Ineffective meetings cost companies millions of dollars. Are you the meeting leader everybody loves to hate? Let’s see.

1. Never plan your meetings — Always send a last minute notice for critical meetings so participants have to scramble to adjust their calendars. Friday afternoon at 4pm is an excellent time to have a really important meeting. As the meeting begins, make sure you wait until everyone is in the room to decide what the agenda will be. Punish the people who arrive on time by making them wait for the meeting stragglers, then extend the meeting an hour or so after the expected end time to ensure you get all the topics covered.

2. Invite the wrong people – Don’t invite the decision makers; always dig deep into the hierarchy to get to the people who have absolutely no authority to make the kind of decision you are seeking. A huge meeting of nonessential people is always more effective than a small, discreet group. Watch the politics — on the meeting invitation make sure you copy everyone you can think of, just in case.

3. Keep the meeting outcome a secret — Absolutely do not take notes of the meeting discussion and important decisions. You’ll want to keep these secret to ensure no one remembers what was discussed or decided. If someone insists on taking notes, gather them up at the end of the meeting, compile them and wait a few weeks before sending to the meeting participants.

What meeting behaviors do you love to hate? Do tell in the comments.

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. Follow her @askteamdoc.

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  • http://twitter.com/MeetingGenius MeetingGenius

    I would add one more, taken from an article called 5 deadly sins of Bad Meetings, that Susan Cullen wrote for our Meeting Genius blog:

    No actions items and accountability identified. One of the biggest mistakes many teams make is not reviewing the actions that need to be taken next. It is important to clarify who is to do what and by when. This should be done at the end of every meeting.

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    deniseoberry Reply:

    That is so true and it rarely happens which is why so many people feel that meetings are useless. We all have the ability to correct the situations that occur in meetings, but for some reason we choose not to. Thanks for offering up your thoughts.

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  • guest

    too cynical to be helpful

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    deniseoberry Reply:

    Thanks. So what you can do with this is look at yourself and your team and ask, “Do we do any of these things?” and “What action should we take to fix it?”

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  • John

    Love this post! Shared it on a conf call today and the humor was much appreciated!!

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    deniseoberry Reply:

    John — Thanks so much for your comment. Glad I could inspire a good laugh. 

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