Here’s why everyone dreads your meetings

Businesspeople sitting at the table on a meeting

Hi. You might not know me, but I know you. I talk to your coworkers, your clients, your vendors, your boss, and your team. They tell me about how receiving a meeting invitation from you makes them cringe. Physically. You probably know this, or at least you suspect it. Surely, you’ve noticed the lack of enthusiasm, the clock-watching, and the “hard stops.” Now, why would this be? Your magnanimous and fun to be around. You have super important information to share with people, and meetings help to facilitate that. Sometimes, you even have your meetings catered. So, why no love for you and your one-hour block? 

The tone of your meetings puts people off. Do you view meetings as venues for public dressing-downs?  Do you like to put people on the spot and ask them questions you know they can’t answer? If this is you, you need to check your ego and reevaluate your style.

What’s this about? Meeting invitations with only subject lines leave much to the imagination of the invited guests. Often, the subjects of meetings are quite prosaic, like “Catch-up,” “Debrief,” or “Questions.” The purpose of a title is to engage your audience and pique interest. It should also give your attendees an idea of what the meeting is about. 

No agenda. Your meetings are a free-flow, stream of consciousness, group-think effort where nothing is accomplished. Without an agenda or a guide for the meeting, it becomes a free-for-all.

8:30/4:30 start times. Obviously. 

Nothing gets resolved. Do your meetings regularly end in “let’s regroup,” or “let’s have another meeting about xyz”? Nobody wants to be involved in that. 

Can everyone see my screen? Your technology stinks. Maybe that’s not your fault, but it’s another reason no one wants to go to your meeting. 

Does that make sense? Your presentation style needs work. You’re not engaging the people in the room or on the call. And you know it. That’s why you pepper your talk with self-validating questions. Stop. 

I have a slide on that. Slides are supposed to support a presentation and be visual aids. Slides are not the meat of the presentation. Think of them as accessories. Don’t have too many. No one wants to sit through your 50-slide deck. NO ONE. 

Your meetings are a time suck. You’ve all seen the meme about how the meeting could have been an email. By far, the number one complaint about meetings is that they are unnecessary and that the information conveyed could have been done so more expediently using other means. Like an email. 

Business people at corporate meeting

What should you do?

Be respectful of everyone’s time. Try not scheduling your meetings at the very beginning or very end of the standard workday and try to avoid meetings that are longer than 30 minutes. Most people are not equipped with attention spans that can hold for a full hour. Set clear goals and expectations for your meetings and stick to both. Finally, think hard about whether you really need to have a meeting. If you’re not sure, you probably don’t.


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