Responding to a one-question online survey by GiveMore.com, more than 1,600 workers were asked "What frustrates you most about meetings at work?" They then selected from a list of common meeting annoyances.
The top 10 responses were:
- Allowing attendees to ramble and repeat the same comments and thoughts.
- Don’t start on time, stay on track, or finish on time.
- No specific action items or walk-away points.
- No clear purpose or objective.
- Not inspiring or motivating.
- Not organized. No agenda.
- Too long.
- Repeating information for late arrivals.
- Weak presenter (unprepared, monotone, overly redundant).
- Boring. Nothing new or interesting.
Over a quarter of respondents added their own comments. A common complaint was 'having meetings just to have meetings' and leaders losing control by letting attendees dominate, complain, and steer the meetings off-course. Unprepared or “showboating” meeting leaders were also cited as a major annoyance.
"What was most surprising was the number one annoyance," said Sam Parker, co-founder of Richmond, Virginia-based GiveMore.com and bestselling author of 212 The Extra Degree and Smile & Move. "It's something that can be handled so easily by the leader. Of course, almost all of the points fall into that category."
Parker suggests using the survey results as checklist for better communication at meetings. "It's simple. Respect your attendees by preparing well, communicating well, and valuing your peoples' time. If you're running a meeting, don't do these things that annoy people. You should have one objective:
to make your attendees better as a result of being there."
If you're attending a meeting, Parker recommends, "Be a grown-up. Participate. Ask and answer questions and be a part of the discussion. Encourage the leader by being on their team and offering your thoughts and support."
"And remember," says Parker, "few meetings are perfect. Give people the break you'd like to be given."