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The 5 Phases of a Bad Meeting Pandemic

Typically, a meeting will go something like this: the host sets intentions and expectations, resources and people are gathered, an invitation is sent with detailed instructions, the meeting kicks off on time with introductions, questions and note-taking spark engagement, the host wraps up with next steps and a follow-up email recaps and reminds every worker of their responsibilities and deadlines.

Then, voilà—a big idea gains legs, a tricky problem finds some resolution, a project finds progress and business relationships are strengthened. That’s how it’s supposed to go.

However, the business world faces a serious threat to work productivity: bad meetings. Here are the five phases of a bad meeting pandemic that will eat your collaborative culture alive:

1. Formation: A meeting is created when a need arises, an objective is identified, an agenda is set, a team is formed and a time and place are targeted. It’s in these early planning stages that bad meetings form, as well. An invitation is sent without an agenda, the meeting is poorly timed or inconveniently located, the team is too large or not diverse enough—these initial missteps foreshadow trouble down the road. This is how a bad meeting pandemic just gets started.

2. Infection: In this phase, the “bad meeting” strain transfers to a participant. Someone takes the conversation off track because you didn’t set an agenda. An attendee dominates the conversation because you didn’t assign roles or ground rules. Background noise infiltrates the meeting because you didn’t practice using the technology, and you can’t remember where “Mute” is. Boring presentation slides stand no chance against the eight-second attention span of the average human.

3. Contagion: This is where your meeting disintegrates, losing the attention and participation of one attendee after another. About 73 percent of employees will multitask on other work in your meeting, and nine out of 10 people will daydream in your meeting, according to The Economic Impact of Bad Meetings infographic from TED Talk speakers David Grady and Jason Fried. As yawns spread, disengagement sets in, completely derailing your meeting.

4. Outbreak: Once you lose all engagement, your meeting lies in ruins and inaction, with a lost purpose, collapsed plans, dying ideas and stalled projects. Parasitic, a bad meeting also thrives off of everyone’s time, and as a result, sucks up nearly 34 percent of all meeting time to unproductivity, according to the TED Talk infographic.

5. Cross-Contamination: Once the infected meeting participants exit your meeting, a bad meeting will transmit among other teams and departments, too. This is because the negative effects of your bad meeting do not stay contained within your meeting space. Attendees will leave with poor attitudes towards those business relationships, other meetings and teamwork in general, rotting the collaboration throughout your entire organization. In this phase, Mindless Accept Syndrome (MAS) sets in, causing every employee to involuntarily accept every bad meeting invitation, and bad meetings multiply into 31 wasted hours each month.

This highly contagious threat is preventable and treatable, though. By making changes like cutting meetings down to 15 minutes, eliminating travel time with video conferencing, banning unsightly presentation slides and investing in better technology for virtual meetings, you can ensure your meetings are productive and your collaborative culture thrives.

Visit The Collaboratory by PGi now to find presentation ideas, guides for optimizing meeting time and advanced tips for making the most of your collaboration technology.

Image Sources: Gratisography

About Ashley Speagle

Ashley Speagle is a Florida-born, Georgia-raised communications specialist, couch movie critic, dream interpreter, acrophobic adventure seeker, outdoors enthusiast, and easy-going introvert.

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