How to Avoid Bad Meetings— These 5 Actionable Ways

May 31, 2021 3 min read
How to Avoid Bad Meetings— These 5 Actionable Ways

Meetings consume lots of time. It’s where we do business. Or rather, where business should be done. Yet, we all experience bad meetings. But it need not be this way.

Here are five actionable ways to avoid bad meetings, whether you or someone else is running them. Use this guide to turn a bad meeting to good.

Symptoms of Bad Meetings

Bad meetings are those where there is no clear purpose or when someone sidesteps the agenda. This usually results in no decisions or bad decisions.

Likewise, a bad meeting is likely when people don't show up, show up late, leave early, or don't prepare. And it gets even worse when a vocal minority dominate the meeting.

Unsurprisingly, colleagues leave meetings tired, frustrated, angry or depressed. The only winners are the indolent, who use meetings to appear busy.

So, let’s look at 5 actionable ways to improve meetings.

So, you need a meeting?

The best way to a bad meeting is to bring people together for no apparent reason. Does this sound familiar? Do you get invited to rolling meetings and weekly catch-up sessions? Or, meetings with no agenda?

My advice is to politely decline the meetings with the reason. Better still, speak to the meeting organizer and ask them to explain the purpose of the meeting.

Always make sure a meeting is necessary before attending. You may find it’s easier to accomplish the goal with a conversation, using email, or collaboration tools. So, make sure you don’t encourage bad meetings, and set the standard.

An effective meeting organizer is clear about the objective, always states the purpose of the meeting in the invite, and again at the start of the meeting.

Stick to the agenda

Another great way to a bad meeting is to take it off-piste. For example, allowing unnecessary side conversations or giving someone a podium to talk about how well their latest project is doing.

Once again, become a beacon of good practice and help the meeting organizer to keep the discussion centred and avoid those unnecessary side conversations.

So, make efforts to make sure the meeting is effective and provides the best opportunity to do business. And of course, always have a freshly prepared agenda that sets out the reason for the meeting. For instance, is it to solve a problem? To reach a decision? Or, to proceed to the next stage of a project?

Loose the passengers

One of the best ways to a bad meeting is to pull people away from their busy schedule to find that the key decision maker isn’t at the meeting.

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