Ten Annoying Meeting Behaviors

I spend more hours in meetings than out. Perhaps you do, too. I guess it is just a fact of corporate life. Over the years, I have cataloged a list of annoying meeting behaviors or just “AMBs” for short. None of these by themselves are that bothersome. But when you combine three or four of them in the same meeting, it can test the patience of Job.Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon, Image #7887592

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

I‘ve written this to the person exhibiting the behavior(s). That’s not you, of course. But if you want to listen in, that’s fine. Here’s the list:

  1. Arriving late. This ends up wasting everyone’s time. Not only do you miss out, but it often forces the group to start the meeting over just to get you up-to-speed. It also screams, “I’m disorganized. I can’t manage my time.” Is that really the impression you want to create?
  2. Taking phone calls. This is probably the most obnoxious behavior. You might as well say, “Excuse me, but I have someone else more important trying to reach me.” At the very least, have the courtesy to quietly excuse yourself and step out of the meeting. And, don’t answer the phone on your way out the door. Try to be as discrete as possible.
  3. Checking e-mail. This is similar to taking a phone call. It communicates that you have something more important to do than pay attention to the meeting. Just say, “no.” Leave the laptop in your office unless you need it for a formal presentation. And, please, PLEASE resist the urge to pull your Blackberry or iPhone out every five minutes and check your messages. (Okay, now I am preaching to myself!)
  4. Engaging in side conversations. A good meeting only has one conversation going on at a time. A side conversation is, at best, distracting. At worst, it is a challenge to the meeting leader for control of the conversation. Engage in a little self-control. If you need to follow-up with someone, write yourself a note, and do it after the meeting.
  5. Not taking notes. If it is not worth taking notes, why are you there? This communicates, “Nothing going on in this meeting is worth remembering or following-up on.” If you haven’t done so, you might want to read a previous post I wrote called “Recovering the Lost Art of Note-Taking.” You’ll be surprised how much more interesting the meeting becomes when you are capturing your thoughts or what others are sharing.
  6. Talking too much. There’s nothing worse than the person who feels the need to comment on everything. Or worse, once they get the floor, they won’t give it up. They just keep talking … and talking … and talking. C’mon, give the rest of us a chance!
  7. Interrupting others. Okay, you have a great idea. You’re smart. We’ve got it. But can you wait until the person currently talking is done? The worst form of this is the person who randomly changes the subject. When you make a sharp left turn, you can give everyone else in the meeting whiplash.
  8. Not coming prepared. Maybe you got away with this in school. But this is real life. People notice. When you are invited to attend a meeting, people expect you to make a contribution. If you don’t contribute, people assume you haven’t done your homework. Maybe that’s why you are getting invited to fewer meetings. Hmmm.>
  9. Chasing rabbits. This is one of those behaviors that makes meetings longer than they need to be. You don’t need to respond to every comment with a quip. You don’t have to tell some long, drawn-out story that everyone has already heard before. Stay focused. You can do it! The sooner we get through the agenda, the sooner we can get back to our offices and get some real work done.
  10. Not speaking up. Every meeting seems to have them. Deadwood. How can you sit quietly for the whole meeting? Sometimes I want to pull out a mirror, hold it under your nose, and make sure you can fog it! Why do you keep coming to meetings? Worse, why do we keep inviting you? Speak up or bow out.

When you really get down to it, all of these flow from the same basic problem: disrespect. Just think how much more productive we could make our meetings if we all showed one another respect and eliminated these behaviors.

Question: What have I missed? Anything else that bugs you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://russ-ramblings.blogspot.com Russ N.

    Similar to #2 and #3 – instant messaging during a meeting.

    Regarding #10 – I tend to be more of a quiet one during meetings. Doesn’t mean I’m not participating or trying to show disrespect, it just takes me some time to synthesize all that comes from the meeting with my thoughts to bring up my contribution to the discussion.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/medecaluwe medecaluwe

      I'm generally quiet as well. Mainly due to those offenders of #6 & #7. I would add as an addendum to these horrible offenses is continual argument. I simply withdraw in this case, because its not worth the stress.

  • Troy

    In relationship to Point #8–“Not Coming Prepared” is not identifying specific “action follow up steps” during the summary portion of the meeting mirrored by the appointed person not sending out a meeting recap in order to communicate next action steps.

  • http://www.michaelsampson.net/2007/01/daily_report_ja_13.html Michael’s Thoughts

    Daily Report, Jan 26

    Team Collaboration Update Pending for Xythos on Demand … Xythos Software is adding new features to Xythos on Demand on January 30, its hosted collaborative content management platform. Those are: simplified roles (viewer and contributor), the ability…

  • george

    Two things that need to occur are the agenda before the meeting so everyone knows how to prepare. The other is agreed upon action items with a prompt delivery of minutes after the meeting.

  • http://duffill.blogs.com Nick Duffill

    #11 is “Failure to establish a culture where meetings are regarded as real work”, by being unclear about what the purpose and outcome of the meeting is, what is expected of the participants, and how success will be measured. People deduce for themselves that AMBs #1 to #10 don’t really damage meetings, because meetings are just something you do in organisations. Too many meetings expire with the sentiment “Well, back to work!”, and hardly anyone questions this. AMBs are a symptom of a cultural issue, not the problem itself. A first step would be to stop calling them “meetings” and refer to the business outcome instead. If a valuable outcome cannot be easily named, then that is the root of AMBs.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Nick,

    I think you make a valid point. I stand guilty as charged!

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    George, you are right about this, of course. In fact, I plan to write a blog post about what the leader can do to make meetings better.
    Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PattiM PattiM

    #1 & #4 are hot button items for me when I'm chairing meetings.

    If the lateness is occasional and unavoidable I'll provide a quick summary of what has been covered once the person arrives. If the person just wanders in late and there is no particular reason other than poor time management, no summary is given nor do I allow disruption of the meeting to bring the person up to speed.

    The odd brief exchange between attendees during the meeting I can easily ignore but when they become frequent, turn into a mini-meeting or are loud enough to reach my ears I usually name the behaviour. When I fall silent in a meeting those in attendance usually catch on that someone is in my sights and I'm waiting for them to catch on. Once they notice they have my undivided attention I invite them to share that important conversation with the rest of the meeting. The other line I use is, "I'm sorry did we double book meeting times?".

    Isn't often the same offender does it twice.

    I don't know that #10 is a form of disrespect though. Some people are just quiet by nature and only speak up when they feel they have something to contribute. As chair, when a person is very quiet in a meeting I usually try to get a sense if they are just quiet or are sulking. IF the latter, I want to know the problem. If the former, I can live with that. Sometimes, the quiet ones are the jewel at the table when they do finally speak up.

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  • Scott Meyer

    Loved this post, as always thanks for sharing. #5 refers to your post about the art of note taking. After reading that post I promptly went out and purchased a Moleskine notebook. I love it. It now travels with me everywhere. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I am curious, as a CEO, what percentage of the meetings are you the chair/facilitator and what percentage are you a participant (not leading the meeting)?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      About 50/50.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    Two things came to mind while I read this, and both are related to my teaching. First, one of the things that bothers me at staff meetings is when teachers are grading, etc. while we are meeting–so I guess I would include doing paperwork at meetings as an annoying behavior. The other thing concerns my students. Since most of my students do not go to 4-year colleges, they will be entering the work world fairly soon after graduation. I will consider running meetings in my classroom to teach them business etiquette. Do you mind if I use some of your posts with my students to teach them what is required in the real world of work?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/MichaelSGray MichaelSGray

      Patricia, I think you might agree with me that teachers make the worst students. Staff developments in my school are typically rife with the sort of disrespectful behavior that Mr. Hyatt lists above. It. Drives. Me. Insane.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

        It's pathetic–on Wednesday, I was at a seminar where teachers got up in the middle of instruction and walked out. How in the world can we expect our students to behave when we can't!

  • http://twitter.com/maniactive @maniactive

    Just left a meeting. Guy appeared to be stoned on allergy medicine, said & did the unpredictable…before wandering off.

  • http://www.RumorsOfGlory.net/blog Lucille Zimmerman

    All of these could be summarized under one "do": Be present!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Can we add 'tweeting' to the list?

  • Rob

    It drives me nut when people start talking about there personal life and tell stories about nothing related to the meeting. Example ( what me the wife and kids did this weekend) My other pet peeve is when the crack jokes about everything the meeting is related too and the leader does not try to get them back on track,

  • Gail

    As Hitch said "If you going to be in the room – BE IN THE ROOM!"

    I'm a big believer in getting involved and engaged in the meeting or get out. You're the best person to decide if it's a relevant investment of your time so if it's not, don't waste others by showing up to meetings that you shouldn't be at.

    I agree on setting a purpose and agenda to meetings. If you don't set a direction for the meeting how can you know if you get there?

  • http://www.lauraclick.com Laura Click

    Great post! You're right – these behaviors are truly distracting and disrespectful. My question is if you're the leader of the meeting, how do you stop or prevent some of these behaviors? I led a meeting recently where there was one person in particular who displayed SEVERAL of these (#4, 6, 7, 8). How do you reign the meeting back in, especially when the offender is a senior leader?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhsmith michaelhsmith

    Great thoughts Michael. They remind me of meeting rules that I learned from a friend. If you are invited to a meeting:
    1. Show Up
    2. Be present (there is a big difference between showing up and being present in the room)
    3. Communicate Openly (be a part of the meeting and voice your thoughts that are relevant to the discussion)
    4. Let go of the outcome (once you have contributed, your idea becomes the team's idea, so if it is shot down or accepted it is nothing personal it is about the team)
    5. Have Fun

  • http://emergencymedic.blogspot.com Chew

    Well said, Mike.
    I am guilty of breaking all of the rules at one point or another.

    Sometimes I guess it is more of a "chicken and egg" situation. The members have the preconceived idea that the meeting is a sheer waste of time and start doing other annoying things, and the chairperson compounds the situation by not staying focused.

    BTW, Mike, how often would you impose people to switch off their handphones or at least to put to silent mode during meetings?

  • BLS

    i have combined #3 and #4 by using im to a person across the room in the same meeting…

  • Melody Brynne

    One idea I have used: not only send out the agenda before the meeting but try giving out specific assignments pre-meeting that are expected to be reported on in the meeting so that everyone will have something to contribute that will fulfill the agenda and make everyone feel that the meeting really contributed to going forward with company objectives and added to the feeling that we are all in this together. Then show enthusiasm and appreciation for all contributions and efforts made to fulfill the assignments. We all like to be acknowledged before our peers. The next steps will follow naturally from the assignments shared in the meeting.

  • Shari

    Your post is speaking primarily to those attending a meeting, and not leading it. My pet peeve is with leaders who a) cancel the meeting 5 minutes before it is to convene or b) show up at the meeting having not prepared at all, causing everyone to waste time. I will chose option A or B anyday however.

  • http://www.stevenMsmith.com Steven M. Smith

    I enjoyed reading your list, Michael. Let me add a few more items, some of which I believe are more than merely annoying:

    11. Unsafe meetings

    Meetings where participants can’t speak up because they are afraid of repercussions.

    12. Inviting the wrong people

    Only invite the people who need to participate. Invite the wrong people and you will elongate the duration of the meeting or guarantee its failure.

    13. Failure to specify the type of meeting.

    There are different types of meeting, such as status, problem definition, problem solving and so on. Each supports a different number of participants.

    14. Failure to specify the desired outcome(s)

    What are we here to do? Without intention, we don’t know where we want to go.

    15. Failure to have an intentional plan for producing the desired outcomes

    Too many meeting have participants wondering around in the dark. A meeting is the simplest of all projects. If the agenda doesn’t clearly show the sequence of events and estimated duration for each that will lead to the desired outcome(s), the project (meeting) is likely to fail.

    16. Failure to gather feedback for improving the next meeting

    Meetings are the lifeblood of an organization. If time and ENERGY isn’t constantly invested in improving them, they will become diseases that infect the organization slowing it down, raising its cost, and reducing the quality of its products. Take the time to periodically gather feedback for improving the meeting process.

    Best regards,
    -Steve

    • http://catalystspace.com Jesse Phillips

      I like your input, Steven. Great points. Failure to specify the desired outcome seems to be a particularly ubiquitous problem I’ve seen. Getting together & talking, but not doing anything as a result is a HUGE waste of time (for the most part).

      And “unsafe meetings” seems to be way too common as well.

  • http://www.keynote.org @kicktheball

    I would like to suggest that a well run mtg would help, but honestly, I still need to own my rudeness. Good post, Michael. That being said, 'Death by Meeting' is worth reading!

  • Fred

    A bad meeting does more harm than 10 good meeting can fix.

  • http://theoreflect.blogspot.com Pat

    Two things that annoy me are meetings that don't start on time and people who are distracted and when you call on them they say, "Sorry, I was multi-tasking." No you weren't. Multitasking is doing a couple of things well, not being distracted and unable to focus.

  • http://www.RiverOfLifeMinistries.com Mark Simpson

    I don't know how you all missed it, but passing gas, eating accompanied by loud eating noises, opening something with a strong aroma in front of others, tapping pencils and jerking and tapping toes and feet and scratching scalps and . . . I have just seen and heard (and smelled) so much I don't know where to begin.

  • http://twitter.com/gracechung Grace

    Great post. I'm guilty of many of these things, but your points are now duly noted. Thanks! Will share.

  • http://theoreflect.blogspot.com Pat

    Mark Simpson–

    The passing of gas and eating loudly are usually things I encounter while sitting at my cubicle. Haven't yet had to endure that in a meeting.

  • http://ericwilbanks.blogspot.com Eric Wilbanks

    I get the distinct impression from reading this article and the comments that the meetings that show up on your Outlook calendars are somehow not mandatory (whether formally stated or informally implied). I wish that were my experience. Unfortunately, the repercussions of declining a meeting invite would be worse than the torture of sitting through yet another bad meeting.

    Here's my simple rule for making meetings productive: If you need to collaborate with me, let's meet. Otherwise, put the information in writing and deliver to me in whatever manner you deem fit. Adopt that mentality and you solve 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10 almost without trying. The rest are just etiquette issues.
    My recent post History in a Flash

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    I sometimes think that most meetings are a complete waste of time :) Great post!
    My recent post Testing the usability of your website

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    I sometimes think that most meetings are a complete waste of time :) Great post!
    My recent post Testing the usability of your website

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  • http://iambelievinggod.wordpress.com Jill

    Continuing to try to slurp on a drink that was obviously empty the last ten times it was tried.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/digitalmomblog digitalmomblog

    I admit it! I am guilty of bringing my laptop into almost every meeting – but I do have to say it's for good. By bringing my laptop, it's enables me to take notes more effectively – without having to retype or rummaging in a notebook to find what notes were from what meeting – I have a digital archive of what happened when.

    Bringing a laptop also has come in handy numerous times when something needs to be referenced, whether it be a past project or a question in regards to our conversation.

    But I do agree with your above points. If everyone followed the above more meetings would provide so much more productive and feel less like a waste of time.

    Great post Mike!
    My recent post Viral Video Done Right – OK GO (yes, again!)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    This is a great reminder. I know I am guilty of several of these. Instead of being a victim in a long boring meeting and acting out disrespectfully, I need to speak into the planning of the meeting. Stand for a different outcome.
    My recent post Miscellaneous Thoughts from Thirty Thousand Feet

  • http://crossroads-faith-life.blogspot.com/ André

    You hit the nail on the head for most of these!

    I would offer this one. The fidgety person that’s always shuffling papers or moving things around and constantly clicking their pens. Every couple seconds you hear “click click” … “click click”. They just can’t seem to sit still for five minutes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    OOOPS.

    When I first read this post, I totally agreed with what you were saying… but then time and my forgetfulness got in the way and somehow my subconscious incorporated these as what we SHOULD do in meetings.

    I've been trying to practice every one in meetings ever since.

    ….Maybe I should call some people and apologize.
    My recent post What is Hosting?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    OOOPS.

    When I first read this post, I totally agreed with what you were saying… but then time and my forgetfulness got in the way and somehow my subconscious incorporated these as what we SHOULD do in meetings.

    I've been trying to practice every one in meetings ever since.

    ….Maybe I should call some people and apologize.
    My recent post What is Hosting?

  • AliceR

    Suggestions that address things that annoy me and are not on the list:

    1. Be clear about what kind of meeting you are having. Is it for information delivery, decision-making, brainstorming, etc? Often, more than one of these activities will be included; being conscious of that will help you structure your agenda to accommodate each activity appropriately, and will also help identify items that need their own meeting. For example, if you are writing the agenda for a monthly department meeting, that may not the best time for brainstorming a new idea, or one that is only relevant to a couple of people in the department.

    My department includes only three full-time people and one part-time person, yet our department meetings—which are scheduled for 60 minutes–invariably run to 90 or 120 minutes. We all like to think out loud, to consider various ideas, to bring our individual lenses and areas of expertise to bear. But so what? It's a dreadful use of time when it's not done by intention, but is, rather, a function of drift. Personally, I'd like to see us keep our monthly meetings to 40 minutes, scheduling topic-specific follow-up meetings as necessary. We already send one another monthly updates a few days in advance of the group meeting. How much time can we need for our whole-group meeting?

    2. Structure your agenda with an eye toward who needs to be in the room. In the event that your agenda covers a wide array of topics, it's quite likely that not everyone who is coming to the meeting needs to stay for the whole thing. Why keep hostages? I like to set the agenda up so that the final topics are the ones that require the attention of the smallest number of people. Everyone else is welcome to stay, if they like, but they are free to leave without any kind of consequence.

    3. Check your ego at the door. Are you coming together to chest thump, or to get some work done? If it's the latter, keep your investment on the subject at hand. Not only will this foster an atmosphere in which people feel safer to take risks, it saves time. Save the chest thumping for the basketball court (or free-for-all chess, if that's more your bent).

    4. Remember that, apart from some extremely rare occasions, nothing on your agenda is going to affect how the earth turn; therefore, it's ok to ratchet down the intensity a bit. Yes, The Mission is exciting to you, and your passion is a gift to the group. It's also not The Most Important Thing Ever, and shouldn't be. We are humans who spend part of our day coming together to accomplish something. Keep it in perspective. If the meeting outcomes are unsatisfying, it's ok. Do a post mortem, take a lesson, do whatever you need to do to keep moving forward. It's a meeting room, not Iwo jima.

    Peace and productivity,

    A

  • Jim Thomas

    Both interrupting and silence during meetings are determined in part by culture. Americans are assertive, if not aggressive, conversationalists. Note how often we register the intent to make a comment by interrupting the current speaker, then backing off. Everyone know knows, then, that the interrupter is next in line. In contrast, in some non-Western cultures, it is considered presumptuous, if not arrogant, to push one's own ideas. It is more appropriate to wait for your opinion to be solicited. In meetings with people who are not Western, or not westernized, I try to remember to solicit input from my Asian or African colleagues. In some instances, I will talk with them individually during a break to hear what they are thinking, and to consider how best to bring their thoughts into the conversation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhsmith michaelhsmith

    I learned from a wise man years ago to apply the meeting rules below that help to avoid the 10 annoying behaviors you posted:
    Show Up
    Be Present (engaging, not just filling a chair)
    Communicate Openly (Honestly)
    Let Go of the Outcomes (the decisions made are for the team not a personal agenda)
    Have fun

    To carry these out the team leader has to be intentional about setting the culture so that everyone involved communicates and does so with respect.

  • http://www.kendavis.com Ken Davis

    I am mildly annoyed when people fall asleep!

  • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

    Years ago, I was ecstatic just to be invited into a meeting because of the feeling of being included. As I matured as a leader, just being invited wasn’t nearly enough. I’ve been to more bad and/or unnecessary meetings than I can count. I might carry a print out of this post in my pocket so I can whip it out during a meeting when it goes south. At least then we could discuss something constructive! :)

  • LoriLamp

    THANK YOU for #10. I have a peeve that is probably very unkind. I hate it when the people who *are* participating are cut off “so we can hear from the people who haven’t spoken yet.” Granted, some folks need space to process and a little silent time to gather the impetus to speak…but speaking up and participating in a fast-flowing conversation must be a skill that can be learned, right? LEARN IT!

  • Andrew Acker

    Don’t forget about those who have a “meeting after the meeting”. I guess it might constitute as a lack of clarity or not speaking up, but when people can’t say it during a meeting, then have a meeting after a meeting. It just mixes everything and is destructive to any results that actually came about from the meeting.

  • Chris

    One more annoying meeting habit I submit: forming clicks and subgroups within a meeting group. This sets up taking sides, alienating individuals and stifling independent thinking. When new person attends a group for the first time their contribution is diminished. Clicks also have other agendas that are quietly discussed or texted during meetings. It feels like highnschool!

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  • Brittany Hudson

    Texting while participating/talking at a meeting.  STOP IT!  If you can’t control yourself, leave your phone in your brief case.  Also, the chronic contrarian.  This person has to object to absolutely everything in order to show the room how smart he or she is. 

  • Masterworkproductions

    Michael, I am curious. How many women are a part of your corporate world?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Well, I’m not in the corporate world anymore, but when I was, probably a little more than half.

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    i wholeheartedly agree with all 10! it’s also frustrating when the person leading the meeting doesn’t “reign” people in who have gotten off topic.  and when there are meetings just to have a meeting and you leave wondering if anything was accomplished at all.  while meetings are  necessary, the poorly planned and executed ones are nothing more than a waste of time. your rules should be given to every organization to follow.

  • Anonymous

    I think this article should have a downloadable pdf scorecard, like the little scorecards at mini-golf places. Then you could pass a score card to somebody in a sort of passive-aggressive way. 

    Good stuff, thanks.

  • Tlcarufel

    a returning aa member loudly questions another old time member with the shout u better get over it old man.  How am I supposed to respond.?

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  • Anonymous

    I would add:
    Being unprepared
    Not showing up

    Crucial people (like decision makers) need to know if they don’t show up, then time is wasted to meet.  

    Being unprepared is wasting people’s time. 

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    When someone rants about how tough their job is at a meeting. If it is the person running the meeting, it makes everyone else feel like a failure. If it is a peer, it makes you feel like slapping them and telling them to toughen up. I don’t think it’s a conversation you’re supposed to be having in a meeting. Share it 1 on 1 with your boss.

  • Jose Figueroa

    I think that’s a very good list. I think you could add to the list: the meeting that results in another meeting. Either due to lack of an agenda or goal, or lack of decision making ability of those present, sometimes all that’s accomplished is to schedule another call. We end up managing by meeting until the calendar runs out.

  • http://www.thecallofmen.com/ Scott Moore

    “If it is not worth taking notes, why are you there?”  Or as the leader, perhaps I should ask myself – “If it is not worth taking notes… why I am still talking?” :]

  • Anonymous

    One thing that this article assumes is that the person has an option to not attend the meeting.  Some cultures require attendance to meetings that simply don’t have direct application to the manager’s core function (more of a “posterity’s sake” sort of environment, or a redundancy model).  The post also assumes that the manager has subordinates that can carry on the daily workflow in their absence during the meeting.  Many environments have one-man departments that have to stay in close contact to meet goals and deadlines outside the scope of the meeting.  However, I think that in those cases, the other meeting attendees are not bothered by the infractions that are outlined here because they understand the purpose behind them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1461818502 Robert Ehrlich Dietrich

    Death by powerpoint… of course that usually falls under not coming prepared. If you are just going to read the slides, just show us the slides. I am a big boy, I can read them without your help.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, I’m running into resistance in my efforts to manage church meetings as I would business meetings. I believe there’s a time for social exchange in building the church, but when we gather to conduct church business these same rules apply!

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  • Jorge

    I lead a board for a ministry and have one board member that never takes notes and always leaves important information at the table. I need to boldness to talk to him and either see change or let him go.

  • Tel

    Disagree with #5 Not Taking Notes. If it’s not interesting or compelling enough to remember without having to write it down then it’s not worth remembering. Too much note taking is just as bad as not concentrating, because as others have alluded to you you can’t actually multi-task, so taking copious notes means you’re missing half the content, which is not about what is said, but the way in which it is said and by who.

    The only person who should take notes is the one holding the meeting.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I certainly couldn’t take notes and also run the meeting. Leading the conversation takes my full attention. This is not true when I am a participant. Thanks for your input.

  • Ebony M.

    Agree on all points. I think you’ve covered all possibilities! Any and all of these are unproductive during meetings. And since most of us hate meetings why prolong the agony? Hope this list inspires some to become better attendees. :)

  • Kathie Chiu

    Well, I feel terribly guilty now… I’ve committed several of these offenses at one time or another. However, many people do some of these things because they hate meetings. Other behaviours can be a result of poor leadership from the chair. It’s totally appropriate to call the meeting to order to move through the agenda when things get off track.

    I happen to like meetings, but not the ones where we plow through the agenda as if the goal of the meeting is to get through the meeting quickly. It’s important to know that meetings help a team stay on the same page, promote consistency among departments and are an opportunity to refocus on vision and core values. A good leader will use meetings as an opportunity to pump up the team by praising them for their accomplishments and thanking them for their contributions to the team.

    Thanks for the post. These are good reminders for us all.

  • http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com/ jill

    I do need to work on that note taking item. That’s my weak spot. However, please stop assuming those of us who are quiet are not thinking and contributing. It’s an American cultural thing, as someone said, to assume everyone should talk, and that is the only valid form of participation. I may not say a word but have a very well formulated plan after I process what went on. For most introverts, meetings are not that useful. No, we cannot “just learn” to break into conversation, partly because it’s not our nature and partly because there’s nothing wrong with how we work. We don’t want to be like the talkers. And you need both for the best working environment.

  • Simanton62

    1. Showing a PowerPoint and reading every word on it to the audience.
    2. Pulling out food to snack on in front of everyone.
    3. Asking questions that only pertain to your department and should not waste everyone’s time…ask privately later.
    4. Staring at anything on an individual screen during the presentation rather than making eye contact with the presenter.
    5.. Calling a meeting when an email would have sufficed, since the meeting was purely informational and those who called it had no desire for employee input whatsoever.

  • Audrey

    Negative attitude which is projected via negative body language. Shifting in seat, crossing and uncrossing legs, facial gestures that make it clear to everyone that this person is not ‘with the program’…it’s the old adage…actions speak louder than words, and disrupt just as much as audible comments…maybe even more.

  • http://twitter.com/jermcd Jeremy Macdonald

    Guilty of at least half of these. Trick is to make 3 look like 5. Feel I have got that off pretty good ;-)

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    Yes, yes, yes. All annoying behaviors!

  • CWB

    Productivity might be at a premium in certain situations, and when meetings are prolonged by a lot of “yaking”….the same points being expressed over and over; or irrelevant comments being made; ….it can be a waste of productive time! Keep to the point….stay on task!

  • Rudy

    I have a punster in my meetings. Everything is a pun. Nobody ever laughs and its distracting. And he wonders why nobody ever takes his suggestions seriously.

  • http://tommartinatl.com/ Tom Martin

    I made it a standing rule if your late to a meeting you must entertain those who were there on time with a song. Tardiness really hasn’t been a problem since.

  • Daniel Pennington

    How about this one. One woman I work with does this every week. “Now let’s everyone spend about five minutes sharing their top three priorities. Just three, okay?” And then she goes on for twenty minutes and tells us a list of 25-30 things she’s doing. My suggestion, arrive on time, stay within time limits, and depart on time.

  • http://marknoldy.com/ Mark Noldy

    Interesting post. (Old post.) The top annoying behaviors in meetings are remarkably similar to the top annoying behaviors in my classroom… Hmm. Unpreparedness, side conversations, and chasing rabbits are pet peeves of mine.

  • Owen Hemsath

    Is it fair to say, “being boring?” I tend to see this in certain personality types but if youre the speaker PLEASE try to make it interesting.

    Am I off?

  • Ricardo González

    Acting like they are taking notes on their laptop when they are proudly “multi-tasking.”