Barry Splotter and the Curse of the Badly Run Meeting

If you’ve ever smiled knowingly and rolled your eyes at the mugs/memes/pins that proudly declare, “I survived another meeting that could have been an email!”,  then you’ve probably sat through more than your fair share of badly run meetings.  These can beanother-meeting-mug a total waste of everyone’s time, throw schedules off, and be very de-motivating for all concerned.

However, a well run meeting can actually SAVE time, motivate everyone concerned, and help the team achieve more.

Make sure your meetings are productive and enjoyable.  Check out these classic meeting mistakes, and find out how to fix them:

Meeting Mistake #1: No Objective

A meeting gets called, but for no apparent reason, leaving everyone rolling their eyes and feeling like this is going to be a waste of time, or worse, they arrive feeling apprehensive.  These are often called last minute, and perhaps they do have an objective of sorts : maybe to broadcast a message or read people’s reactions to something.  However, the objective has not been communicated, and likely has not really been thought through.

The solution: if you feel the need to call a meeting, make sure you understand why you’re calling it.  Think it through, and figure out whether you could actually do this another way – do you really have to interrupt everyone’s day with a meeting, or could this be done in an email?  If you don’t need discussion, and are just broadcasting a message, a meeting may be unnecessary.

Meeting Mistake #2: No Agenda

You go to a meeting, and you’re not sure what needs to be covered. If there is no agenda, there is no plan.  That means no one can prepare, and important information can be overlooked or forgotten altogether.  Everyone goes off on tangents.

The Solution: Once you are clear on your objective, make sure you draw up an agenda, to ensure that everything you need to cover is done within the time you have available, and you don’t forget anything.  Even if you don’t have time to distribute your agenda first, hand it out at the meeting.  Assign a period of time to each item on the agenda, and stick to it.

Meeting Mistake #3: Starting or Finishing Late

You turn up at a meeting, and you sit around for 20 minutes waiting for the person who called it to turn up.  They are busy making phone calls or finishing up their previous meeting, meanwhile your valuable minutes tick away.  Or a meeting that was due to finish at 10am is still in full swing at 10.15am, and you are wondering how you’re going to make it through the rest of the tasks you need to finish today.

The Solution: Make sure you always start on time.  Be disciplined.  If it’s your meeting, and you’re late, you give the message that your time is more important than everyone else’s time (not good).  And having an well-planned agenda will help you finish on time.  You can even appoint someone to keep time, and move you through your items according to your agenda.

Meeting Mistake #4: You Invite The Wrong People

You show up for a meeting, and by the end of it, you realize that you really weren’t needed for that meeting.  You’ve wasted an hour of your life that you’re never going to get back. Or you find out that a meeting has just happened that you should really have been at, but you weren’t invited.

The Solution: When you decide a meeting is necessary, don’t be lazy.  Take a moment to figure out who should be there.  Don’t invite an entire management team to a meeting when you don’t need them there – and this happens more often than you might like to know, because it’s easier to call a whole team than to take the time to think of the individual members you really need.  Make sure you have thought through the people who can actually contribute and that you really need there.  All-Hands meetings do need to happen, but not every meeting needs everyone there.  Conversely, make sure you aren’t missing out on valuable contributions from someone you didn’t invite.

Meeting Mistake #5: No Progress Made

You spend an hour in a meeting, but you don’t actually achieve anything.

The Solution:  Be clear before you start what you are trying to get out of the meeting.  If you need to make a decision on something, make sure you don’t spend all your time discussing ideas, and avoiding a decision.  If you’re trying to solve an issue, make sure you come back to formulating a solution, rather than going in circles discussing the issue ad infinitum.  Understand that the purpose of meetings generally is to leave with a list of actions for people to do.  These actions should propel your project in a forwards direction.

Meeting Mistake #6: No Action Log or Notes

At the end of your meeting, you have no follow up notes or action log that confirms what each person is responsible for.  Which translates to: even if you have made decisions or agreed to getting things done, there’s nothing to hold you accountable… which means they don’t get done.

The Solution: Assign someone to make notes, go over the to-dos you have created before you finish the meeting, and send out an Action Log after the end of the meeting.  Extra bonus advice – make sure that only one person is assigned to be responsible for each action.  Where more than one person is accountable for something, no one takes full responsibility, and it doesn’t get done.


Meeting mistakes are avoidable.  The few minutes taken to think and plan
in advance, will potentially save hours of everyone’s time.  Couple this with simple principles, like making only one person accountable for a task, and you will multiply the effectiveness of your meetings.

How many of these mistakes do you recognize?  How many are you guilty of?  Find out more about how Human Nature Development can help you and your team be more productive. Get in touch and arrange a free, no obligation discovery session to find out more, by completing the form below: