5 things your team hates about meetings

Meetings seem to be the de facto way of working yet they aren’t always as effective as they could be. In fact, most people roll their eyes at the mention of meetings … and there are 5 things that your team hates the most about meetings. 

  1. Punctuality 

In one organisation I worked with they claimed that you weren’t technically late until 14 minutes after the start time.  I’m not going to even start with how they came up with that number but it was an expected and accepted cultural norm that was having a big impact on the effectiveness and productivity in meetings. 

Punctuality, or rather lack thereof, sends a number of messages to the team: 

  • It can be interpreted as lack of respect for other people’s time. 
  • It reduces productivity.  Most meetings these days are booked for an hour, and if we are late we are eating into that productive time. Not only that, if some people are late we may need to repeat things, or we don’t have information we need to make decisions. 

Antidote:  Show up on time!  Start meetings at the exact time irrespective of who is in the room.  Don’t allow “do-overs”.   

2. Too many too often

Many of the managers I work with say that they spend all day in meetings and can’t get their actual work done!   Back to back meetings all day means that I then have to work until 8 or 9pm at night on actual work. 

Antitode:  As a leader you need to have a governance or meeting strategy.   DEecide what meetings or forums are required to get your work done.  Be clear about the purpose, inputs and outputs by using a meeting charter  

3. Lack of Agenda

Often people don’t understand why the meeting is happening and why they are even there.  A lack of an agenda means people aren’t able to: 

  • Make a call about whether I go to the meeting or not. 
  • How I need to prepare for the meeting 
  • The outcome or result we are headed for in the meeting 

Antidote:  Prepare and share an agenda 24 hours before a meeting giving people time to show up prepared.

4. Using phones or laptops during the meeting

We are addicted to our technology.  In one study, it seems we refer to our phones 85 times per day. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283305882_Beyond_Self-Report_Tools_to_Compare_Estimated_and_Real-World_Smartphone_Use)  How often have you noticed people in meetings checking their phones or laptops.  It’s as though we can’t stop for 60 minutes.  Impact is: 

  • Low attention – we have to repeat stuff 
  • Is interpreted as lack of interest which in turn leads to feeling disrespected
  • Split attention – nothing is done well.  You are not participating in the meeting properly and you are not doing your email properly.  Both are being half assed.  Best to give your whole ass to one or the other.   

Antidote:  Tech free zones.  If the meeting goes longer than an hour, pause for a quick 5 min check in.   

5. Meeting is hijacked by others.

A meeting that gets hijacked by two people who spend the group’s shared meeting time discussing something that should be discussed at another time between just the two of them. 

Or someone with a louder voice, or more pressing issue takes the time up with their situation, irrespective of whether it was on the agenda or not. 

Antidote:  Use a facilitation process for the meeting.  Nominate a chair who has the right to interrupt and park non relevant issues. 


Donna McGeorge

DONNA McGEORGE is a speaker, author and mentor who helps people make their work work. Using a creative, practical approach, she improves workplace effectiveness while challenging thinking on leadership, productivity and virtual work. ‘The 25-Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact’ is published by John Wiley. Find out more at


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