35 Surefire Ways to Kill a Meeting
Author: John Gravitt
1. Play "find the meeting" by changing the location and time of your meeting at the last minute.
2. Don't bother to book your meeting room in advance. Lead the group from room to room trying to find another place to meet.
3. Bring 5 handouts for 20 attendees.
4. Leave and say, "I'll be back. I'm going to make handouts."
5. Don't use an agenda because "everybody knows why we are here."
6. Keep an attitude that "meetings are not work."
"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything. "
- John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - )
7. Say "I don't need a microphone" and proceed to yell for the entire meeting or talk too softly for the back of the room to hear.
8. Combine two unrelated meetings into one big meeting, ensuring that half the group will not care about half of the meeting.
"Soufflé is more important than you think. If men ate soufflé before meetings, life could be much different."
Jacques Baeyens, French consul general in NYC
9. Don't serve food during a lunchtime meeting.
10. Play "find a chair" at the beginning of the meeting due to inadequate seating.
11. Allow people to bring active pagers and cell phones and stop the meeting when one goes off.
12. Use visual aids no one can see without binoculars.
13. When you are finished, keep going just because the meeting was scheduled to take longer.
14. Invite Bozo the Facilitator to conduct your meeting.
15. Spend time trying to remember what happened at the last meeting.
16. Spend time arguing about what happened at the last meeting.
17. Refuse to take "off-line" conversations off line.
18. Fail to take minutes and follow up after the meeting.
19. Disband without summarizing the meeting.
20. Start over each time a latecomer arrives.
Please email your favorite "meeting killers" to firstname.lastname@example.org.
21. Speak in "alphabet soup" and other jargon most people don't understand.
22. Announce that someone will be joining by conference call and take everyone's time while you set up the equipment.
23. Start with an apology like "sorry to get started late" or "I know you can't read this, but…"
24. Fail to agree on the purpose of the meeting.
25. Go over the allotted time.
26. Volunteer absentee team members and forget to tell them about their assignments.
"A motion to adjourn is always in order. "
- Robert A. Heinlein
27. Schedule a long meeting. Anything over 90 minutes is too long for most meetings.
"On average, a project manager spends 8 years of his or her lifetime in meetings. "
- Vijay Verma
28. Invite the wrong people to the meeting.
29. Fail to invite people who should attend the meeting.
30. Allow "monopolizers" to ruin the meeting.
31. Speak to impress rather than express. Use words like "utilize" when you mean "use" and "enhance" when you mean "improve".
32. Come unprepared. Fail to plan for a successful meeting.
33. Read agenda and handouts word for word to the participants.
34. Keep participants in the dark about their roles in the meeting.
35. Keep doing what you've always done even though you know you've had "defective meetings" in the past.
About the author
This originally appeared in John Gravitt's "Tools, Tips, and Toys" available at http://thegravittgroup.com.