Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Avoid these 10 Meeting Mistakes

Bringing people together for meetings can be a great way to increase team interaction, discuss ideas, and share valuable information. However, 100 people polled in the last 42 days indicated that most employees perceive meetings as a colossal and inconvenient waste of time.

Why is there such a disconnect? Many managers or facilitators make one or more of these meeting mistakes, also known as:

10 Ways to Anger and Irritate Your Meeting Attendees (Sarcasm and humor intended.)

  1. Schedule the meeting during lunch. People love to focus when they are hungry, and that puts them in the right frame of mind for their afternoon client calls. Don’t provide food – that might be distracting. People could spill on the copious notes they are taking.
  2. Be sure to announce the meeting less than 24 hours in advance. People love showing how flexible they are for nonimportant staff issues,. Clients love being reshuffled as well to accommodate your poor planning.
  3. Keep the topic of the meeting a mystery. People LOVE surprises.
  4. Don’t have an agenda. Workers enjoy your sense of disorganization and off-the-cuff, random thoughts on philosophical issues.
  5. Read to attendees during the meeting. Preferable a very long, detailed, or analytical new policy. Do this for several minutes. Make sure to mispronounce several common industry words so that we pay attention.
  6. Giggle a lot. People respect your humorous nervous energy when you are in front of subordinates.
  7. Start the meeting with off-color jokes to connect with our immature side.
  8. Don’t start or end on time.
  9. Hold weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings even if you have nothing to say because those meetings are on a checklist somewhere.
  10. Give the company complainers plenty of time to air their personal grievances.

Get the idea? When employees don’t feel as though their time is valued, they are not fully engaged. Increase participation and accomplish the organization’s goals by making sure that you don’t make these meeting mistakes.


  1. Adam J. Miles

    After reading your 10 meeting mistakes made me wonder; You, by any chance, just happen to serve in the Navy? 🙂 Great article! BZ!

  2. Carl "Chevy" Chevallard, PhD

    As a fellow career military officer–of the blue skies (USAF), not the blue water (Navy), I heartily commend Mary’s fun, funny, and fer real article “Avoid these 10 Meeting Mistakes.” As a professional orchestral conductor and leadership trainer, I’ve learned that in meetings people value their TIME above all else. To lead effectively, you’ve got to KNOW THE SCORE, START ON TIME, STOP ONLY WHEN NEEDED, and LISTEN WITH EARS LIKE “DUMBO!” Thanks Mar!


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