Do you have a cure for boring meetings?

For some people, the work day begins with a ritual. Pour a hot cup of coffee, turn on the computer and check the day’s calendar. Once the caffeine kicks in and the morning cobwebs clear, a daunting slate of meetings hits you in the face.

A 10 a.m. staff meeting. An 11 a.m. budget meeting. A noon lunch-and-learn meeting. A 1 p.m. scheduling meeting. A 2 p.m. project meeting. A 3 p.m. meeting to plan the next meeting.

Where did the day go? It dragged on in an endless series of mind-numbing meetings.

Some meetings are necessary and even productive. Complex projects that involve several departments and an extensive task list require planning and regular meetings to keep up with everything.

But what about those meetings that quickly become an exercise in trying to stay awake as someone drones on and reads a PowerPoint presentation? How about a meeting that serves as a chance for showboats to regurgitate what they just read in a book about the principles of management? Or better yet, a long meeting with a question-and-answer session where a guy just won’t stop asking questions?

How do you deal with monotonous, mundane meetings? Do you have any creative ways to get through boring meetings without losing your mind? Tell us about it, please. I have a meeting at 2 p.m.

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6 comments Add your comment

Joan Eisenstodt

August 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

Adding to your questions: Why do meetings (in-office meetings, off-site meetings, conferences, conventions, etc.) all have to be boring? Why aren’t we changing them to be dynamic and in ways to meet the needs of some if not all participants?

Ok – first thing: an agenda — for which everyone has input. Use social media to do that.
Discuss issues ahead of time – via social media, the new “water cooler” or literally by the water cooler or coffee pot. Gather ideas to bring to the meeting to make it dynamic.
Change the seating & the setting: it doesn’t have to be in the same place. Is there some place outside (ok..not in 90+ or 40- weather but …)to sit or create a different look in the conf. room by bringing in plants or art or something.
Bring creative stuff: When doing training or facilitation, I always bring toys – fun creative stuff to keep participants’ hands and brains engaged. They love ModelMagic(TM) or SillyPutty(TM) or Legos(TM) or WikkiStix(TM) or color pencils or crayons. Do things that stimulate.
Lastly – the facilitation of the meeting is critical. If those who run (facilitate) it lack the skills, tell them to learn more. Just calling a meeting and going through the agenda is not enough. You need to be really engage people in the discussion and stop the discussion or “park(ing) lot” it if need be. And consider a meeting w/ Q-storming(TM) – it is an incredible tool to get to the questions before jumping on answers.

John Brieske

August 10th, 2010
3:22 pm

Joan: Great suggestions. Like anything else, a productive meeting requires good preparation. Thanks.

Joan Eisenstodt

August 10th, 2010
5:50 pm

Welcome, John. Alas, there is often little prep and people are not trained to run effective meetings.


August 11th, 2010
10:56 am

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Mortimer Collins

September 14th, 2010
7:52 am

Yes. Discuss the topics at hand and be done with it. So many, women mostly, want to hear themselves babble on and on about a huge pile of nothingness or how we might better re-invent the wheel.