5 Simple Ways to Save a Bad Meeting

It can be easy to feel like you have to slog through bad meetings to the bitter end, regardless of whether it’s productive or not. You go to the trouble of finding a time that works for everyone and securing a location, so you feel obligated to fill up the time. But what if the meeting just isn’t working? What if you find yourself — gasp! — in a bad meeting?

Here are five simple ways to save a bad meeting:

1. Change the subject.
If the topic at hand causes you to lose the room, turning your participants into a sea of glazed-over expressions, switch it up: jump ahead in the agenda to a different subject to kick-start the creativity. Veering off course a bit can get your participants re-engaged. If you don’t have any other business to discuss, detour into last night’s baseball game or the big cliffhanger ending to everyone’s favorite show. A brief digression can spark the room back to life in a hurry.

2. Break the ice.
Few things reenergize a crowd like the latest funny YouTube video or a clip from that crazy football game the night before. You can go from a room full of half-asleep coworkers to an excited, giggly bunch huddled around a computer screen in a manner of seconds! Try to not let things get too off course, but a little laughter can go a long way into making a meeting fun and memorable.

3. Take a breather.
We all need a few minutes every now and again to clear our heads, so why should your meetings be any different? If the energy level is low, take five – give everyone a chance to get a fresh cup of coffee, hit the restroom, answer that nagging text message or just stretch their legs.

4. Change the venue.
Sometimes that old standby conference room can suck the energy out of your meetings, particularly if your team has already seen it a few times that week. If you’re worried about keeping people engaged, change the setting. Schedule a meeting at the deli across the street or move your meeting to the local coffee joint. Even better, try scheduling a remote meeting; let everyone stay comfy at their desks and hop into an iMeet® video conference or GlobalMeet® web conference call.

5. Kill it!
Sometimes you’ve just got to know when to throw in the towel. If your meeting is sinking, if those glazed looks have turned into full-blown meeting zombies, don’t force everyone to sit there in awkward silence like a classroom full of students who didn’t do last night’s reading. Don’t be afraid to simply kill a meeting if it isn’t working for anyone! Give everyone their time back to go be productive or just shake off the meeting malaise. Sometimes all a team needs is a little distance from a topic for a great idea to strike.

Another good tip after killing a meeting is to send out an e-mail with some bullet points on the topic that stumped everyone, giving them time to think it over at their own pace. Give it a few days then reschedule; your team will show up rejuvenated and ready to collaborate.

How do you deal with the day-to-day meeting monotony? Have you every killed a meeting a mere few minutes in or switched venues midway?

Tell us what you think, and check out our fun look at the five worst things about meetings.