Boredom: The tragic result of poor meeting planning

We believe that meetings should be meaningful, dynamic, interesting, engaging, productive – or cancelled. Too often, however, everyday business meetings are neither interesting nor cancelled, they are BORING.

Too many people have come to accept boredom in meetings as an inevitable fact of organizational life. For IIFAC facilitators, boredom is the business equivalent of a medical emergency. Immediate, effective action is called for! The group is suffering a life-threatening loss of time, energy and enthusiasm!

Hold yourself to a higher standard of performance.

If you are the person convening the meeting,

  • Insist that each meeting have a clearly defined purpose.
  • Ensure that those invited understand what that purpose is and why you need them there.
  • Limit agenda items to issues directly related to the meeting purpose.
  • Define expected outcomes, responsibilities, and next steps.
  • End on time – or early!

Notice the verbs in the above list: Insist, ensure, limit, define, end. They are actions, not vague intentions. They show respect for the colleagues you are calling together and promise to use their time productively.

Break the mold.

Other strategies for declaring an end to “business as usual” meetings:

  • Vary the time and place for the meetings.
  • Close the door at the announced starting time and do not allow latecomers to enter.
  • Eliminate chairs and tables in meetings billed as “quick check in”.
  • Use a countdown clock to measure elapsed time. Stop when it runs out.
  • Post the agenda on the wall and stick to it.
  • Do not allow anyone to speak twice on an issue until all have had the opportunity to speak once.
  • When arguments begin to recycle, stop the discussion and ask for proposed solutions.

About the Author:

Beatrice Briggs is the founder and director of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change, a consulting firm based in Mexico. A Certified™ Professional Facilitator, she puts her years of experience at the service of leaders who want to make their meetings worth the time, talent and money invested in them. A native of the United States, Beatrice has lived in Mexico since 1998, working in both English and Spanish to alleviate the suffering caused by bad meetings wherever they occur.