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Top 10 Ways to Waste Time in Meetings

Debra Sunohara

Meetings are an essential part of doing business.  However, they take up too much of our time leaving most of us eager to actually "get some work done”.

With that in mind, I thought I would offer my “recommendations” for running productive meetings:

1. Invite everyone.

  • We all have time to kill.
  • You don't want to exclude anyone or hurt their feelings.
  • Make sure to invite people who tell good jokes, like to goof around and are generally do good a job of lightening things up.

Note: Beware of inviting anyone who might have an agenda or attempt to reach a decision during the meeting.

2. Don't start the meeting until everyone has arrived.

  • It's rude to start a meeting on time – we all have unexpected events pop up during our day.  Operational schedules should build in slack for these unknowns.
  • Starting a meeting late lets everyone know that they shouldn't feel bad about being late next time.

3. Do not have an agenda.

  • Agendas impose too much structure and do not allow you to effectively explore knew ideas.

4. Never keep minutes.

  • If you do, how would you spend those first few minutes of the next meeting when you should be trying to reconstruct the last one?
  • Minutes can have the negative effect of assigning responsibility for follow-up on action items.

5. Never assign roles.

  • There is no need for a timekeeper, minute taker, or shouldn't play favourites.

6. Let your leaders/supervisors do most if not all of the talking.

  • They know best, so it's logical that they should talk the most.

7. Only "good" ideas should be presented.

  • All other ideas should be rejected, laughed at and made fun of.

8. Encourage "multitasking" during meetings.No-cellphones-100x100

  • Announce that texting, reading e-mails and answering calls during the meeting are not an issue. Everyone will feel that the meeting has been more productive.

9. Do not assign work.

  • If you assign tasks during meetings then everyone will not enjoy them as much.

10. Do not end meetings on time.

  • If you do, you have not properly applied these recommendations.


If you can find some flaw in this list of recommendations and would like a different perspective on effective approaches to running a business meeting, I highly recommend Neal Whitten’s book “No Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects” – Chapter 23: How to Run an Effective Meeting.

And, I would be very interested to see if any of you have recommendations you could add to this list of 10 that I have provided?  Please leave your ideas in the comments!


Great list!

And personally, I don’t feel like we’ve accomplished anything useful unless we agree, as a group, on the exact wording, syntax, spelling, and grammar of every item that is discussed.

By Geoff Schaadt on 2010/07/16

Yup, this is definitely good advice!

By Alcide DeGagn on 2010/07/26

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Posted by Debra Sunohara
Posted on July 16, 2010

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Categories: lessons learned, productivity, project management