The only thing worse than sitting through a bad meeting is knowing WHY it’s so bad.

I have to recount a recent experience that I assume most of the Forum readers would understand and have encountered. My CIO recently asked that I and several of our peers attend training. The day-long seminar could only be described as painful. I would have sworn that the speaker had listened to the Manager Tools podcasts on Effective Meetings and Running Large Meetings and then decided to do the exact opposite of every one of Mark’s 437½ points! Started late, no greeting, no introduction, no agenda, etc. … and more slides were projected on the instructor’s chest than on the screen (I truly wondered if he forgot he was projecting slides)! It's pretty bad when you start anticipating what the instructor is going to do wrong next, because you know from Mark and Mike what the right thing to do would be.

I honestly prepared to introduce him to the Manager Tools podcasts after the training, but his presentation was so poor all my colleagues could think about was leaving the building as soon as the class was over, and since he never introduced himself I have no way of knowing who he was.

Mark's picture
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Well, we admit that this is not the first time we've been accused of making things worse by showing what's possible.

For Mike and me, as most of the meetings we're in WE RUN, imagine the pain and agony of someone else's meeting.  [Of course, imagine a MT member leading a meeting we are IN].

We feel your pain.

Slides on the chest/face is always a favorite of mine!

gernot's picture

 I always wounder why some people do NOT get it why their meeting is terrible uneffektive.

I have been at a meeting from a project manager of a million euro, 40 people project. He was giving a short 3.5 hour introduction on a specific topic.

As he starts, he talked about "we will be using a parking lot" - i was surprised and feelt good. Then he wrote the word "parking lot" at the flipchart and never used the pl in any diskussion.

Needless to say, that the whole agenda was "Introduction - 3h long", that there were no breaks in a room where oxygene vanished after 30 minutes.


Here comes the twist: as normally this guy is a good one, i politely talked to him about the advantages of breaks and an agenda which covers a few milestones of the topics/subtoipcs. He said thank you - and i really hoped to get something across.

But in the second run of the same meeting i heard from a peer that it was the same mess again. And he still wounders why he is not able to finish on time. Yes, it's a mystery - at least to him!

But with a little wikipedia you know the reason: 


He is on the leven of "Unconscious incompetence"

"The individual neither understands or knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit or has a desire to address it."


See => Four stages of competence

PBeaney's picture

I have problem lol, and it got 100 times worse when I read and implemented the recommendations in Presentation Zen ! Allthough I am never too hard on the individual. I thought I was a good presenter unlill I opened the book at random and saw a page that compaired a traditional silde describing how blogs are like sharks to a more zen version and then I relised there was a whole new level of effectivness. Also if somone is giving poor presentions what is their boss doing ??



mikehansen's picture

I am also amazed at how prolific bad meetings are.  One flavor I see a lot is the pseudo-agenda where the leader has a list of topics but no time frame.  It gives the illusion of organization but plays out just 1 step above a complete free for all.

I think all we can do within our organizations is lead by example.  As for external meetings, we are stuck.

I love Mark's comments.  For Mark/Mike their days must be filled with a constant stream of experiences where they observe ineffectiveness and probably have to suppress the urge to comment or correct.  It must be like a composer walking the halls of the elementary school and hearing the band practice, being painfully aware of the mistakes being belted out.

At least we get to benefit from their pain...