How to Make Meetings Fail

Why do so many meetings fail? The intention was never to bore people to tears, or to demoralize a team, or to waste time and money.  But it happens, and quite often.

Recently I read a blog post from Seth Godin – I really like the message and want to share it with you:

“Let’s go around the room”
If you say that in a meeting, you’ve failed. You’ve abdicated responsibility and just multiplied the time wasted by the number of people in the room.

When we go around the room, everyone in the room spends the entire time before their turn thinking about what to say, and working to say something fairly unmemorable. And of course, this endless litany of ‘saying’ leads to little in the way of listening or response or interaction or action of any kind.

The worst example I ever saw of this was when Barry Diller did it in a meeting with 220 attendees. More than two hours later, everyone in the room was bleeding from their ears in boredom.

Leaders of meetings can do better. Call on people. Shape the conversation. Do your homework in advance and figure out who has something to say, and work hard to create interactions. Either that or just send a memo and cancel the whole thing. It’s easier and probably more effective.

You’ve been in those “Let’s go around the room” meetings, so have I.  Creating innovative, meaningful meetings isn’t easy. But then neither is creating a successful practice or business. Before you schedule a meeting, whether with 5 people or 500, invest in planning the agenda, developing the subject matter and building an environment that is will . You will get the ROI you want – your team will leave energized and engaged.