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5 Things We’ve Learnt from “The Office” About What NOT To Do in Meetings

Recently, the London Evening Standard produced a fascinating piece by Phoebe Luckhurst, discussing how boardroom meetings are wasting time and money for a lot of companies. According to Nest CEO Tony Fadell, it costs his company between $50-100k in salaries to host them — so it’s obviously important to get them right. We’ve all been to a meeting where we have no idea what’s going on and nothing seems to be resolved by it. This challenge is exemplified by the popular TV show, The Office. Can we learn what NOT to do from fictional bosses David Brent and Michael Scott?

1. DON’T Turn Up Unannounced

It’s unrealistic to expect people to be ready to deliver what you need them to if they weren’t expecting to have to do so. Blocking out a clear and convenient time for all parties is essential so people have time to prepare, or at least “call ahead” — particularly if they don’t work directly for the company.

2. DON’T Pretend You Didn’t Receive the Agenda

…much like David did when sat in a meeting and asked if he had anything to add to the agenda, which he had thrown in the bin upon receiving. People need to know why they’re giving up their time and what’s expected of them, so they can prepare appropriately. If you’re in charge, create and share an agenda in advance. The MindManager Meeting Jetpack provides the best way to get the most out of MindManager when it comes to planning and managing efficient meetings that result in clear decisions and action plans.

3. DON’T Take Over with Long-Winded Solo Discussions

Meetings should be a collaborative discussion, not a forum for one person to take centre stage to voice their personal opinions or drown out others (or sing the “Free Love Freeway” with an acoustic guitar). Ensure you give everyone the chance to share their thoughts, maybe even asking individuals to run certain sections — and, always welcome contributions. Definitely don’t ask people to “get out” if they question what you’re saying; remember that challenging thoughts and opinions are often what lead to better informed ideas and actionable decisions.

4. AVOID Sitting Down

…for each and every meeting. Typically, the most senior person in the room stands up at the front leading, and in Michael Scott’s case, they do it dubiously. Standing up keeps people engaged and energised. Allen Bluedorn, a professor at the University of Missouri, conducted a survey that found that, although standing meetings are typically shorter than sitting meetings, they still produce roughly the same quality of decision-making.

5. DON’T Whisper or Talk Across People

…even if you’re hiding your face behind your hand. And definitely don’t tolerate this behaviour from others. If you’re organising the meeting, be confident about asking people to wait for a moment to let another finish their point rather than interrupting. Encourage those who often stay quiet to contribute by specifically asking them for their opinion on a matter.

Do you have any meeting ‘don’ts’ to share? Tell us about them in the comments, below!

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