While sometimes a dreaded “bad meeting” can sneak up on you without warning, often times there are telltale signs to look out for that signal that an “ugh meeting” moment is on the way. If any of these 7 pop up at the beginning of your next meeting, brace yourself – or run for the hills.
1) No One Knows What It’s For
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Your team has a meeting scheduled. They stand up from their desks together and the confused looks have already begun. As they walk down to the conference room, someone finally just asks the question on everyone’s minds: “What is this meeting about?”
Assuming that your meeting isn’t intentionally hush-hush, if an entire team is clueless about a meeting’s contents, they sure as heck don’t know anything about its objectives. Your meeting is being set up for glacially slow progress (assuming it manages to make any at all).
2) Technical Difficulties
Technology, for all of its efficiencies and features, can be an unpredictable beast. And, as I’m sure many of you can attest, if it is going to fail, it’s going to wait for the most inopportune moment possible, such as when an important prospect is trying to join your web conference.
You can avoid a bad meeting catastrophe by streamlining your web and video conferences for you and your guests. Both iMeet® and GlobalMeet® are cloud- and browser-based solutions, meaning there’s no program to download, install, or run for your guests. And with Auto-Connect™ for its desktop and mobile apps, iMeet will connect your audio for you, saving you from the hassles of bad meeting tech.
3) The Awkward Silence
“Alright, who wants to start?”
It’s almost painful just reading it, isn’t it? Nothing screams “bad meeting” quite like one that starts with an awkward silence, announcing to the entire room that everyone is equally unprepared. There’s a chance it’s just cold feet, and a skillful meeting maestro can get the ball rolling, but sometimes it’s the signal that your time is about to be officially wasted.
4) Agenda Confusion
Picture this: you’re meeting with an external vendor of a product you’ve already purchased to discuss things like implementation. Due to a miscommunication, the vendor thinks they’re still selling you the product and the whole things turns into a sales pitch. Your meeting has gone off the rails before it’s even begun.
This is another example where killing the meeting is likely the best option. When two parties come into a meeting with completely different ideas on what it’s about, it’ll be a slog to productivity at best and a disaster at worst.
5) The Opening Tangent
Another all-too-familiar scenario with meetings: right before you’re about to kick it off, someone chimes in with, “Before we begin, I just want to hit one thing…” And before you know it, half of your meeting time has been spent on a completely unrelated subject, leaving you scrambling to cover all the salient points of your agenda.
My biggest bad meeting pet peeve is having meetings within meetings; don’t let your carefully planned and organized meeting fall prey to a surprise attack from a meeting tangent.
6) Important People MIA
If you get 5-10 minutes into your meeting and the person who called it, or owns it, or is supposed to be running it has yet to arrive, you’ve got the makings of a seriously bad meeting. This can be particularly tricky with your executive team, the men and women who are always going a mile a minute and regularly get pulled in dozens of directions at once.
The important thing here is to not stall out your team’s workday for one person, even if they are in the C-suite. If a respectable amount of time has elapsed, kill the meeting and reschedule.
7) One Person Show
This one comes with a bit of a caveat, as sometimes the nature of a meeting is one-talking-to-many. But if you find yourself in a collaborative meeting and one person is monopolizing the time, there’s a very good chance some great ideas are being lost.
If you’ve all come together to brainstorm and no one can seem to get a word in edgewise, you’re in for a long one. If you happen to be the host, try and spread the wealth around and give everyone a chance to make their voices heard.
Bad meetings aren’t always avoidable but they are oftentimes predictable. With the help of the Meetings Experts and these warning signs, you can keep your meetings productive and on track.
Do you have a story of a legendary bad meeting? Share it in the comments!