Are you experiencing death by meeting?

SkyeTeam leadership development

If you’ve ever sat in a meeting wishing you were anywhere but in that meeting then this article is for you. Meetings are a necessary part of business, countless hours are spent every day, every week in meetings, discussions, decisions and companionship are all provided (along with tea and cookies if you are lucky). Yet, despite all our time in meetings it would seem that the skills to run an effective meeting are sorely lacking and have completely escaped most of us. Death by meeting is an all too common experience.

This week I had ‘death by meeting’ inflicted in several different ways, maybe you recognize these symptoms!

Shiny object syndrome

Where the meeting participants went off at tangents like a pack of hungry squirrels looking for their lost nuts. Over there, up there, down there, the conversation scampered in all directions, but not here – focused on the purpose for the meeting and the decision at hand.

The limelight star

Where one person inhaled at the start of the meeting and I’m sure, didn’t pause for breath for the remainder of the time. Instead they dominated the conversation, stifled debate and input from others, and finished the meeting with “Oh, we seem to have run out of time, let’s pick this up next time” which leads me to the next symptom of death by meeting;

Ground Hog Day

Where participants are stuck in an endless loop of the same discussion over and over again; New data is requested; A different PowerPoint template is asked for; The report from 3 years ago is suddenly recalled, dusted off and found;  In the meantime, the team is stuck in an endless spiral of conversation that doesn’t move things forward.

Stuck in the weeds

In this meeting the senior executives were arguing over whether to launch their new product in red or blue, rather than discuss the impending product launch by their competitor. OK I am simplifying their discussion, but there was no doubt that they were focused on issues well below their pay grade instead of those issues only they could resolve.

The reality T.V. nightmare

In this meeting not only did this meeting start late, but the first 20 minutes were given to discussing the latest reality T.V. exploits. I could sense the tension from those who didn’t watch the show, their internal “Reality T.V.?!? I came here for Reality T.V.?!? I have emails, I have things to do people!!” Interestingly no one said anything contrary in the meeting, it was only as we walked down the corridor afterwards that they vented their frustration at the time wasted.

Next week I will share tips on how to avoid inflicting death by meeting!