How to Survive A Boredom Meeting

It is not difficult to survive a boredom meeting if you know the outcome. But the most of the times you don’t know it and for that reason, you attend the designated (planned by others the most of the times) meeting. The trick though is, how to make the truly uninterested meetings productive (in case you cannot avoid the participation!)

How to Survive A Boredom Meeting

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There Are Meaningless Meetings?

Let’s face it, in our business life every one of us has attended meaningless meetings. Meetings you have wished never to participate. As a general rule, I try to avoid “large and open“, mostly, unstructured meetings (if I can) and I rely on most to 1:1 or to 1:2 small, only necessary by its objectives, physical or electronic meetings for doing my job.

I think that business meetings of more than 2 people should be done under very strict and specific conditions (specific goals and time boundaries, designated agenda, specific participation of only the people needed for the accomplishment of the goal of the meeting, firm coordination of time and outcomes, etc) and for very special reasons (such as when the normal communication channels in business are not enough, the division of roles and tasks is not clear, the outcomes of a project is not fully understood by the participants, etc).

But in today business, this is not always the case. The most of the times meetings “happen” for reasons other but the declared ones! And, of course, there are times, you cannot avoid meetings, that their outcome adds nothing either to professional or personal projects’ activities. It’s the “come together” meetings (as I call it!), a euphemism describing a “social” event under a business-like pretense (yes there are a lot of those, believe it or not). And, unfortunately, you should attend them!

If you have caught in the middle of such meeting, what can you do? How to survive and most of all how to transform a boredom meeting in something useful for all the participants?

5 Ways To Survive A Boredom Meeting

There are many strategies and tricks to use to survive a boredom meeting and save your sanity and time. Some are more “appropriate” than others. But in the bottom line, every one of these strategies, can save you precious personal time, resources, and energy, you can invest in more productive ventures!

A word of caution though. These strategies should be used sparingly and with utter respect towards the other participants, aiming at best in saving the time of every attendee and the objectives and outputs of the meeting.

Said that some of my favorite strategies to survive a boredom meeting are:

  1. Avoid it or cancel your participation. If you know from a previous experience that the attendance of this specific meeting (with the specific attendees, goals, and agenda) is a total waste of time then avoid it or cancel your participation.
  2. Transform the scope of the meeting: If you cannot avoid the attendance in a specific meeting, then you should transform your participation in a more productive one, by changing the scope of the meeting (don’t get me wrong, scope not the goals). Usually, this is done by changing the context to a one much more interesting for the attendees. For instance if the meeting has as objective the resource allocation for a company’s project (something can be easily done by a simple e-mail, as a normal business practice), you can take the initiative of discussing besides the “who’s going do what” and “what kind resources you are going to need for carrying out the project” issues, and what further value-added services might be offered to the clients, how many more outputs or “products” can be ensured by the process, how your activities can offer more value to your client, etc.
  3. Provide constructive feedback. It is possible to transform a meaningless meeting to a productive one by using, as deliberating strategy, specific feedback to the discussions and transactions occur during the meeting, by providing constructive feedback and shifting the content of the meeting to more interesting subjects.
  4. Promote and Demote Agenda’s Objectives. One more constructive way of transforming a “dull” meeting in a productive one is by strategically promoting some subjects from the agenda of the meeting and demote others. In this way, you can promote subjects and actions that would provide more value to the participants and to the goals of the meeting.
  5. Be strict with the ground rules. If you see, that the meeting drifted out the designated goals, you can insist that the participants should observe more closely the topics, time and agenda of the meeting. An elegant and productive way to do that is by insisting on the completion of each topic, described in the agenda, summarize the action should be done and by who and move forward to the next topic.

Question: Do you think you can survive a boredom meeting, and how you are going to do that?

    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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