How to survive meetings?

Posted by Claudia Moser on 1:06 PM in , ,
Most of my time at work is spend in meetings, trying to solve problems which most likely should have been present if the counterparts would have thought of them at the right time.

Anyway I developed some methods in order to either avoid going crazy or to have the feeling that I do bring some added value.

To start with always speak up, say your opinion, but develop one prior to the meeting, if possible. So many times I enter a discussion with one agenda and end up talking about something else. Did this happen to you too? The only way to get by is to actually clarify from the beginning which are the objectives, what you are expected to deliver and to wrap up at the end the next actions.

If the meeting is boring and unproductive, I often try to make productive use of the time by writing down my goals, thoughts, plans, my to do list for the day. At least one useful thing!

In order to make meetings less painful, I typically observe people and try to predict their behavior. Specifically, I try to understand people and predict when and what they will interject into the meeting. In my experience, most meeting participants are talkers. There are few listeners. This means everyone is typically searching for an opportunity to state their position, rather than actually listening. These people simply listen in order to find an interjection point.. Thus I also do my best to involve all participants, even if I did not organise the meeting. 

As in most cases, the meeting will get off track, people will ramble on, and the vagueness will leave you wondering what people are actually talking about. A couple key phrases that I've found useful are the following: "Perhaps it's just me, but I'm unclear how this is related to that?" Of course, replace "this" and "that" with what's relevant for your meeting. If you're lucky enough to have an agenda for your meeting, you can simply ask, "Where are we on the agenda?"

If all else fails and you need to get out of there, leave for the bathroom. Doing this can buy you about 10 minutes of freedom, and hopefully when you return the meeting is wrapping up.

All in all I do try my best since I believe that if someone asked me to attend a discussion, they either expect my opinion or my approval or they need my presence there for other reasons (i.e. motivation, escape goat maybe?). I also do believe that face to face communication brings a lot of added value in difficult situations, thus you should at least make an effort. It is not always easy, thus sometimes I do revert to the bathroom or to do trick, hey, I am only human right? :)



I had to sit through more than my share of meetings while working for the state. When very young (early 20's) a friend told me that if the meeting got so boring to the point that sleep was eminent, just start imagining they were all sitting there in their "birthday suits". Let me tell you...that works! As you look at each person with your imagination, sleepiness flees! LOL

Claudia...I just started laughing heartily after reading the words in the picture...too funny! I think I need to "hold a meeting"...aww...that's great!

Thanks for making me laugh! (I needed that)

Have a wonderful day (or in your case...evening!) Guten Abend!

Jenny @ Pearson Report
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Twitter: @AprilA2Z

@Darlene - next time I might try it, but I guess some I would not want to imagine naked :)
@Jenny - happy for doing that! Cannot wait for April btw!

Loved the cartoon. I've never worked where there were meetings, but my daughter Sandy has and she has told me many stories how nothing gets decided or done. I think a to-do list is a good thing to do during a boring meeting!

@Belle - you did not miss much :)

Yep, those are all great suggestions on how to get through meetings. Best way to avoid them...RETIRE. I know, I know but I had to wait a long time as well. Those meetings are a drag. I used to always remind myself not to be 'The One' that goes off on a tangent. UGH!
Good one today Claudia!

Meetings...yuckity yuck. I never really liked them and always had to host them or attend them. Part of the job, not the best part.

Good job and sorry you have to suffer through them.

"In my experience, most meeting participants are talkers. There are few listeners. This means everyone is typically searching for an opportunity to state their position, rather than actually listening. These people simply listen in order to find an interjection point."
And this is compounded when people have differences with other departments. I feel like you. Must be the language, which forces me to listen, because I don't know what they're going to say until they finish. I dislike large group meetings so much, that I'd rather meet with three people for 15 minutes than 6 people for 1 hour. You can get more done in 15 minutes with less people than with more people and more time. I love mini-meetings. They are so much more efficient. Coordinated mini-meetings with short agendas and key people are less likely to get off track. Maybe you could experiment with mini-meetings sometime. There is a great advantage in them. When someone says, "Oh, I don't think we could do that. We have to talk to Mr So-&-So first." You can say, "I just met with Mr So-&-So and Mrs Such-&-Such 15 minutes ago, and they already agreed that they will do this." Saves on "let's discuss this until the cows come home."

@Sush - until my retirement there is so much time! But you are right, it is an alternative
@Jo - it comes with the job!
@weissdorn - you are so funny :)

That was really funny and sad at the same time Claudia. Funny because I can actually see yourself doing these things and sad because I've been at far too many of these meetings and I know this has happened. Frankly I think people get more done standing in the hallway after the meeting than during the meeting!

I work from home now, so... no meetings! Yay!

Ah yes. I used to take a lot of bathroom breaks :-)

@Susan - some meetings are like that, what I do try to do is to avoid to organize myself such type of events!
@Dawn - lucky you!
@Sarah - in the end what ahold you do right?

I always hated meetings when I worked. Although you usually found out stuff you didn't know, it always cut into work time and I always thought I could be getting a lot more done instead of just sitting there.


@Kathy - well some meetings definitely keep you from working, that is true, but some are helpful!

Been there, done that, wrote several stories and poems while zoning out.

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