How To Bust Boring Meetings!

Life’s too short for boring meetings! It’s too short for the conference calls that send you to sleep; for tedious weekly catch-ups; for mind-numbing off-sites packed with powerpoint.

Earlier today I was ranting to a fellow facilitator. She’s part of a group of consultants who stage amazingly creative events, bringing together scientists from multiple disciplines to spark the kind of novel research that leads to fundamental breakthroughs…

…and their internal conference calls are pretty dull.

boring meetings? Every day, across the world, there are probably hundreds of thousands of phone- and video-conferences that achieve nothing except tedium and frustration. They’re just boring meetings.

Research shows that more than 27 per cent of people have actually fallen asleep in a conference call. The vast majority of people attend to other things while on a call: other work, cooking and eating, using the loo, exercising…

What a massive waste of time, money and energy.

Why do we let it happen? Could any of these ideas be relevant?

  • The fact is, most people don’t know how to make face-to-face meetings interesting. It’s not actually difficult – but most “how to run meetings” training seems to be stuck in the 20th (or even the 19th) century. Of course, occasionally it’s important to bash briskly through a rigid agenda. But more often, the meeting is there to harness the imagination and energy of the people involved – and “speaking-through-the-chair”, fan-shaped meetings won’t do it.
  • Even if people have the know-how, maybe they just can’t be bothered with applying it for internal meetings. I hope that’s not true. I fear it may be: I know I’ve failed to prepare for plenty of internal meetings myself. Let’s change this. Please, have some respect for yourself and your colleagues!
  • When people have the know-how to make face-to-face meetings interesting, and the inclination to apply what they know internally… what needs to happen? Of course, online meetings are different – but they can be just as engaging, especially with reliable, high-quality video-conference technology. I work with groups online and offline: online, people can choose their own physical space (with lighting, heating etc to their preferences), can easily move about if they need to, and are less likely to be distracted/annoyed by their colleagues’ tics. The chair/organiser/facilitator/trainer still needs to create and “hold” the shared space, but that’s pretty straightforward if you can do it face to face.

Given all of that, what needs to happen for your to bust your boring meetings and do something different? What’s holding you back?

Please comment below.


1 thought on “How To Bust Boring Meetings!”

  1. Alison Broder

    How about making bullshit bingo a formal part of the meeting. Then every person attending would be on the look out for meaning less jargon and pointless theorising, which would improve their attention span and make them less keen to fall back on that drivel themselves.

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