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Łukasz Olczyk

Łukasz Olczyk

How To Ruin a Meeting

We love to be all efficient at what we do, be it at work or not. We love to focus on things that bring actual value, that change reality, that make sense. We love our work to only be distracted by fuss ball game every once in a while. Well, do we? Always? Clearly, no. Every now and then, we feel this strong urge to do something stupid and pointless, to make someone else miserable, to prey upon their time. If this is what you feel right now and, bound by your strong work ethic and adherence to our values, have no idea what to do about it – I have something perfect for you!

It’s called a meeting. I can now imagine your perplexed face. “Meeting? How come? We have quite a lot of them – and each one makes perfect sense!” Here’s a relief for you – you have quite a repertoire of means to make them worse. Welcome to the one and only, detailed guideline to ruining a meeting.

  1. The most important one – make it without a reason. Imagine a title “Let’s discuss the way things are”. Perfect. Make sure it’s mandatory for everyone invited, have a group of assistants scramble to get all the avoiders. No, not a single soul can escape your beautifully crafted misery.
  2. We’ve all been taught, be it by colleagues or experience, that whenever a single direction of information transfer is enough, we should send it by email. It’s not what you want. Have all your victims stare at tons of slideware, with their eyes begging for rescue.
  3. It’s actually quite cool to pretend you’re not the one organizing it. Ask some helpful soul at PMO to give you a hand, come late and pretend you know nothing about. Let them wonder who is the chair, only to reveal your true identity once someone – in vain – tries to run.
  4. Check your victims calendars and make sure the timing is adjacent to as much other meetings as possible. Make it in a different room – or better yet, a different building! Imagine people running in blizzard, knee high in snow – no corporate brutality is better than that.
  5. Don’t ever set an agenda! If they realize the total uselessness of your plan, they will do whatever they can to avoid taking part. That’s not what you want.
  6. While we’re at it, why not setting a series of meetings? Imagine sitting in the windowless conference room with no plan, no recap, no feeling of continuity for three hours every two weeks. Genius!
  7. If, for some odd reason, you’re about to set a meeting that makes sense, make sure the key person can’t attend. You will all chat and discuss for hours only to realize you’re unable to make a decision.
  8. Be late, start late. Keep your fingers crossed for someone to arrive even later – what a fantastic opportunity to start all over again!
  9. End as late as possible. Also, make sure that some other meeting is planned right after you’re done. Yes, some irritated souls will hover by your doors, yes, they will be annoyed, yes, that’s what you want.
  10. Don’t ever use open questions. It makes people think, which – by random collision of neurotransmitters – might one day trigger them to realize they’re wasting time.
  11. Maximize disruptions. Make sure people bring laptops and cell phones. You might be perplexed by this advice – after all, they will inevitably space out and start doing some actual work! That’s when dark side of your force should activate – once you notice they do something of use, ask them for an opinion. In a matter of two to three iterations, you’ll deplete all hope from their hearts.
  12. Have a joker up your sleeve. I mean, the actual person. We all know someone exploding with extrovert emotions every two minutes, to the amuse of all spectators. This is the person you need – just make sure she or he has no interest in the meeting.

Do you know what’s the best thing about these twelve steps? You don’t need to do all of them. You don’t even need half. One is more than enough. Off you go then, disrupt and ruin, alike Vikings pillaging villages.

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