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Bad Meetings: How to Avoid and Manage Them

meeting room preparation
The Robin Team
Published on

Avoid bad meetings at all costs if you're looking to increase productivity.

Robin alone hosted 12 million meetings last year in our customer’s offices. If each of those meetings were 30 minutes long, that’s 686 years of meetings. If you stick around long enough, you could witness your great-great-great-great-great-great grandkid leading a team meeting. In 2703.That’s an overwhelming statistic in and of itself.

On top of that, over half of meetings happen without a pre-planned agenda. Anyone else shudder after reading that?If you’ve fallen victim to a bad meeting or you’ve mismanaged one yourself, don’t fret.

There are ways to recover. The easiest way to avoid future bad meetings in the workplace is to learn from your mistakes and use that as fuel to manage better next time.

You have to do the prep work to host a successful meeting. Pretty simple, right?

Stats about average meetings

Why do bad meetings happen?

It’s no wonder people consider over 50% of meetings wasted time. Time is money and bad meetings steal both from your business.

What's the harm in unproductive meetings?

How to plan your next meeting to avoid a doozy

Look back on past meetings to see what worked and what didn't. Don't be afraid to ask for help or feedback from colleagues. Once you’ve gathered some feedback, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is a meeting necessary?
  • If you can't come up with a purpose, odds are, you don't need a meeting.
  • Does everyone need to be face-to-face to reach a goal?
  • Consider a drive-by convo instead (i.e. a quick informal chat at someones desk). Sometimes a quick email or Slack will do the job.
  • Does everyone invited need to be there?
  • If you're inviting an entire team, can you invite one representative instead? Have each team divide and conquer. The less, the better. Make sure everyone invited has time to speak.
  • What's the best time to hold a meeting?
  • At Robin, we see the most popular meeting times at 10am and 1:30pm.
  • Can this meeting happen in 30 minutes or less?
  • The shorter, the better.
Average attention space

Meeting factors you should consider to avoid a bad meeting

Consider every aspect of running a meeting before you schedule.

  • Number of participants
  • Type of meeting room
  • Amenities in the room (TV, projector, desk)
  • Meeting time and length
  • Agenda

Every meeting needs pre-planning. A lack of planning leads to bad meetings which leads to grumpy employees. Gross! No one wants that.

  1. Consider who you invited and what type of meeting is about to happen. Some meetings lend themselves to standing desks and TVs. Others require a conference call phone. Plan accordingly.
  3. Come up with an agenda that’ll make the meeting flow well. Envision a timeline and an end goal. If the meeting’s supposed to end with a decision, ask yourself how exactly to get there.
  5. Send the agenda to meeting invitees to give them time to prepare as well. Be detailed in your meeting invitation.

Another way to avoid bad meetings? Stop accepting them.

In his Ted Talk about saving the world from bad meetings, David Grady outlines how blindly accepting vague meeting invitations is ruining the office experience worldwide.

“Everyday we allow our coworkers, who are otherwise very, very nice people, to steal from us. And I’m talking about something far more valuable than office furniture. I’m talking about time. Your time.”

He believes we’re in the middle of a new epidemic known as MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome.

Mindless Accept Syndrome:1. An involuntary reflex in which a person accepts a meeting invitation without even thinking why.2. A common illness among office workers worldwide.

Or as Grady puts it, “A self-inflicted wound.” The cure? “¡No mas!”The next time you receive a meeting invitation that lacks information, don’t blindly click accept. Get in touch with the organizer and ask for an agenda (which he/she should have already prepared). Determine whether you need to be there. Ask what the goal of the meeting is and help them pull off a successful one.

Don’t let your meetings suck. Don’t let the meetings you attend suck, either. Learn from past mistakes and understand your employees before planning your next meeting.


If meeting success and management gets you all hot and bothered, see how we can help.

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