I have a theory. The effectiveness of a meeting is inversely proportional to the number of people attending the meeting.
Most anyone working for any length of time has been to meeting Hades. The worst of the worst seem to be regularly scheduled staff meetings. The more frequent the meetings are scheduled the more tedious that they tend to be.
One of the worst that I experienced was a weekly staff meeting. They were scheduled for Monday mornings at 7:00 am. There were typically only six of us that attended regularly and they started off ok. After a few months, the charm wore off.
I have studied this and there are signs that indicate the futility of regularly scheduled meetings. I will admit that I really have not really studied this, but my mind wanders during bad meetings. The first sign of the impending doom is when the attendees grumble about having to attend (almost always behind the back of the convener – the boss). The second sign is when they start taking “critical” calls in the middle of the meeting.
The third sign is when folks start coming late followed by the final sign when folks start to avoid the meetings altogether. If your boss is the one calling the meeting, avoiding it takes some skill. After all, when these things are regularly scheduled you cannot use the best excuse; “I already have something scheduled.”
Our weekly meetings continued for a few months and eventually changed to bi-monthly, then monthly, and then they mercifully ended. Having a meeting just to meet serves no useful purpose. When I saw a book on Amazon called Death by Meeting, I had to buy it expecting a humorous volume denigrating meetings.
Patrick Lencioni used fictional characters and a great story to show first how bad meetings are just that, bad. Death By Meeting is not written to be humorous, but if you have experienced any of the pitfalls of meeting black holes, you will be amused. Bad meetings still will frustrate you, but you will be amused.
The good news is that Lencioni guides us to the path of effective meetings. The bad news is that unless your boss reads the book you are still stuck. Sometimes knowing how to fix something, but not being in a position to fix it can be frustrating. The inside cover of Death By Meeting sums the book nicely; “a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings.”
My suggestion is that you buy the book, read it, and anonymously slip it onto your boss’ desk. If you are really feeling devilish, you could leave a note to pass it up the ladder.