Rinse, Repeat, Drone on…


How many have been in meetings that become a mind-numbing experience of “going through the motions.”  The agenda remains unchanged from month to month or week to week.  Results, News, What’s upcoming, Share a story, go forth, conquer, see you next time around……  Rinse, Repeat, Drone on, Rinse, Repeat, Drone on.

Going through the motions.  I’ve seen it in Fortune 500 meetings and I’ve seen it over many years in meetings in very small companies with just a handful of attendees.  No forum or group of staff seems exempt.

Going through the motion meetings often have these qualities:

  1. A rigid agenda template – The topics, length, and speakers never change.
  2. An extreme focus on positivity and/or generalities.
  3. Little to no engagement of those in attendance.

Lets take a look at each of those points:

A rigid agenda template – An agenda in an of itself is a positive and should be prepared well in advance of every meeting and shared with those attending well before the meeting.  Roberts Rules be damned, but when meeting agendas become nothing but containers of headings–Old Business, New Business, Performance Last Month, Case Studies, New Products, Project Updates, and so on–then it is no surprise that meetings become monotonous and boring.

An extreme focus on positivity and/or generalities – It’s a meeting, not a cheer-leading exhibition!  In other words, some of the worst meeting environments are those where a leader is so blinded by positivity that he/she has lost touch with the reality of the organization.  A gathering of professionals should allow communication for challenges they are facing, concerns they have, ideas they long to share.  This leads to real-world discussion, growth, conflict, passion, and engagement.  The “let’s talk about that after the meeting”….or the always odd “let’s take that offline” are many-times nothing more than roadblocks to what could have been meeting topics helpful to the larger group.

Little to no engagement of those in attendance – The notepads might be out, the meeting attendees may be cordial, even looking the part of eager/engaged professionals.  Yet, a “going through the motion” meeting is often full of attendees who have minds wandering to their unending workload, their upcoming weekend plans, or their latest spat with a co-worker or another department. Conference calls can even be worse, with attendees spending the entire call checking email, reading news, working on their to-do list, and anything else that keeps them from being engaged.

You want to stop having “Going through the motion meetings?”  You want engaged employees? Then change your approach.  Have meetings when meetings are warranted.  That’s generally when there are specific agenda topics that a group should discuss, learn about, debate, benefit from, brainstorm, provide feedback on, and share perspectives about.  Meetings of this nature benefit from attendee input and achieve results.  Granted, it takes a meeting leader/moderator who can stimulate the group to get involved, who is not afraid of critical feedback, and who is committed to doing more listening/developing than speaking/reporting.

The good news is this is not as hard as it may seem–and the results are often revealed quickly and dramatically.  A staff that is engaged and involved is readily visible by their actions. And, once you turn the corner (if you had been a “going through the motions” group) you’ll find the momentum of the group engagement helps the leader/moderator continue running useful meetings time after time.

Photo by: ccPixs.com