I have to sit through a staff meeting every week. These meetings are painful, or at least I find them very painful to sit through and in fact I have walked out of one just because I could not bare to sit through it any longer. They tend to be dominanted by two or three people and the chair isn't really a chair but just someone who calls out the agenda items and then 'they' are of and racing.

I come from a business culture where meetings were ran effeciently, with proper agenda items, timed discussions, started on time, finished on time etc etc.

I do not particpate in these meetings because I honestly feel that the items up for discussion are trivial and a waste of time. I want to discuss what I condider to be the real issues of the organisation.

However, I am concerned that my lack of particpation in these meetings will begin to affect the way I am percieved and hurt my chances of promotion.

Any comments on how I should go about changing the meeting format or how to genuinely get involved or passionate about mundane issues. How do I say to people, "these meetings are so bad that I do not want to sit through them anymore".

What can I do?




rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

It happens more often. For inspiration, you could read "Death by meeting", by Patrick Lencioni.

If the meetings are run by your boss, you can not give feedback. Otherwise you could try to address it.... personally with the involved people or by suggesting an agenda point for a future staff meeting.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

There's really not a lot you can do without enormous professional risk. If they are someone else's meetings, leave them alone. Rum YOUR
Meetings the right way and sooner or later folks will come around.


royd's picture

If you are part of the meeting can you raise an agenda item that will help you get some stuff done, or provide a short briefing on what your team are doing if that woud be useful to help other people get stuff done, you could then apply the excellent guidance in the various meeings and briefing casts to do that in a professional way, including pre-wiring if required.

That way you might start to get utility from the meeting, be seen to be contributing and set a good example. Trying to add valid agenda items is also a good way to start a relationship with the person chairing the meeting.


Mark_Phillips's picture

The feedback is valuable thank you. It is as I suspected though, I will endeavour to maintain a positive frame of mind and contribute as positively and genuinely as I can. I do run my own meetings and use the meeting podcasts for guidance; however, I am suprised at how many people are suprised by the way I run my meetings but I always get a thank you at the end.  I will look into "death by meeting", seems very relevant if not a tad humorous.

GlennR's picture

I went from reading this particular thread in my Google Reader to my next blog which was Tom Peters' blog. He had a post about meetings. Note that it does not address this issue, but it is related. Don't scoff at his point about theatre. It's not important when you are running your own departmental meeting, but think about cases where you are running an interdepartmental work group and no one on that group is a direct of yours. I have such a situation coming up in mid-July and this presentation will be of help to me.

afmoffa's picture

 Mark wrote: "If they are someone else's meetings, leave them alone. Rum YOUR Meetings the right way and sooner or later folks will come around."

That was probably a typo, but perhaps a Freudian one. Rumming meetings is a good way to make them far more interesting, though.

There was a podcast on "How to End a Conversation" which I think is relevant to your topic about meetings. Basically, if you are trapped in a boring conversation, change your mindset away from "engaging the topic" and toward "engaging the person." Go to these deadly-dull meetings with the mindset that you are going to make friends, that you are going to say at least one helpful thing, even if it's just "well said," or "I agree." If you have to, make a little game out of it. Give yourself a point for every person who smiles at you. Take away one point for every time you yawn. (Just make little tic marks on your note pad "III X III  X" and so on.)

naraa's picture
Training Badge

 I am guilty of being of one of those 2 or 3 people that talk too much on the meetings.  

I was on one meeting and I knew most people in the meeting agree with what I was saying but no one dare to say it.  I was trying to get the others to support what I was saying but I couldn´t, not in that forum.  I came to realize that perhaps they were indeed right and I am the one that needs to learn to speak less.  

More recently I was going to go to an important but a difficult meeting, but I wasn´t too well.  I told someone I would go but I wouldn´t say anything (I was not well to get into difficult arguments and discussions).  And this person asked: "If you are going to go but you are not going to say anything, why will you go at all?"

The purpose of a meeting is to exchange ideas.  If you go you are a participant and you are, in my opinion, guilty of connivance if the meeting is a bad one.  Is like you are in a crime, you see the crime but you haven´t act.  You are still guilty.  I believe if you are in a meeting you are responsible for contributing to improve this meeting, otherwise why are you there?  It takes courage, intelligence and skill to do it.  But if you see it, and you do not act you are connivent to it.  If you were part of a group and this group would do something bad to somebody, like commit a crime, would you lay back and do nothing?  I know it is difficult to be the one that sees what others don´t and much more difficult to be the one that does what others do not have the courage to do.  But it is the necessary thing to do.  Even if it costs us something.  

You do not have to tell people how to run their meeting, that could be professional suicide, but you can contribute to a meeting in a smart way so as to decrease the contribution from those that are not really helping advance to the real important issues, or to help close an issue and at least have the meeting finish on time.




Mark_Phillips's picture

Just checked back in to see if there was any more comments and, I am suprised that there were several more posts about this. A bad meeting is a 'crime', absolutley. However, I don't see the participants as the perpetrator but rather the victims of poorly run and organised meetings (to use that analogy). Although I do not see myself as a victim.  I contribute to meetings when I feel my contribution is needed and I have something to add but when agendas are rubbish I just cannot find the mojo to talk the talk, I would rather day dream.

I am running my meetings to the best of my ability, they have clear and precise agenda items that focus the group, discussions are timed, agendas are sent out in advance (a minimum of 48 hours), everyone is encouraged to contribute to the meeting agenda, I chair the meeting all the time so there is consistency and people know what to expect , meetings always finish on time if not a few minutes early and I keep participants on track as best I can.

I have received positive feedback about my own meeting from my boss who sits in on the meeting. I owe most of this to Manager Tools and the podcasts on how to run an effective meeting.

I am starting to see improvements in the whole staff meeting too and I a doing my best to now round off a discussion if it is becoming a "talk fest" and get an action to occur. 

Some very good points thank you all, I did feel that NARAA you were a bit patronising  "The purpose of a meeting is to exchange ideas", thank you but I am aware of the reasons why organisations have meetings.  


naraa's picture
Training Badge

 Mark, didn´t mean to be patronising.  I apologise.  The sentence was just to introduce the idea.  I guess you were a bit frustrated with the meetings at your company and me with the ones at mine, for different reasons.  Never meant to imply I knew something you did not.  I just wanted to share with you a different perspective on the same problem.  I will be careful next time not to comment if I am frustrated.  Sorry again. Nara