Worst meetings ever — a practical guide!

How we might create the worst conditions for productive meetings? How might we have the worst meeting ever?

Skjoldbroder
Jan 22 · 4 min read

Preparation is half the battle

Logically, it follows that no preparation is also half the battle, and a great starting point for having the worst meeting possible. So do this:

  • Don’t prepare yourself for the meeting
  • Don’t give others a chance to prepare —this means: avoid sending out an agenda, presentation or relevant materials before the meeting
  • If you can’t avoid sending out something… either send out the wrong materials, or old / obsolete versions

Finding the perfect meeting room!

Booking the room

It’s a bit obvious that you’re trying to screw things up if you don’t book a room at all. Here are some other, more practical ideas:

  • Book a meeting room that’s too small to seat everybody
  • Book a room that’s HUGE (you may as well ruin it for someone else who needed the space, if possible!)
  • Double-book! It’s sure to be a hit when others show up
  • Change the meeting room at the last second

Features of the room

You may want to ensure that your meeting room meets some or all of the following requirements:

  • It should have no windows or natural light at all
  • No working aircon
  • It should be near a busy entrance with a door being constantly opened / closed
  • An added benefit would be a small but very annoying noise … like an overhead light buzzing, or a high-pitched “squeeeee”
  • An extra added benefit would be an odd smell, like somebody left an old ham in the waste basket.
  • If possible, the room should have no whiteboard, roll-up or projector / tv
  • You should of course also remove all paper and pens! (oh, and remove those handy guest WiFi information cards!)
  • There should not be enough chairs, so remove some — somebody should be left leaning against the wall or forced to look for a seat.
  • For bonus points: add clutter such as cardboard boxes, used plates, old coffee mugs and garbage.

Inviting people

  • When you press “send” on your Outlook invitation — don’t include which meeting room you’re going to be in
  • Obviously, as mentioned, don’t include an agenda in your invitation
  • Invite people at the last minute
  • Invite people who don’t need to be there (but make attendance required!)
  • Invite A SHEDLOAD of people. More is better!
  • Double-book people! They have another meeting? Doesn’t matter — invite them anyway! :)
  • Move the meeting. Then cancel it. Then re-invite people!

Time!

Time is a great way to mess with people. Everybody is busy and pressed for time, so you can seriously worsen the experience of a meeting through a few simple time-based tricks:

  • Make the meeting very long —like 3 hours! Or all-day!
  • Let it draaag out … set the meeting for an hour, but just keep it going forever, and ever, and ever… with no end in sight!
  • Schedule the meeting at a time where people usually do personal things — like in the morning when people normally drop off their kids
  • Schedule the meeting at meal times such as breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • You might even schedule it at night, requiring people to get out of bed (“hey, we don’t want to let down those overseas clients, come on, make an effort!”)
  • Show up late for your own meeting (obviously!)

Avoid steering the meeting

  • Do not have a moderator for the meeting — It’s fine, just let the strongest people in the room control where it goes
  • After a little while, you (the guy who invited everybody) just up and leave.
  • Avoid stating what the purpose of the meeting is
  • Let the topic under discussion change at random. If nobody changes it — okay, do a little bit of steering, and change the topic yourself!
  • Have more than one meeting at the same time — people are gathered here together, it’s the perfect time to discuss the road map for next year, the implementation of a feature AND the christmas party!

Document NOTHING

To ensure that your next meeting is even worse, you might want to follow some of these suggestions:

  • Don’t document anything about the meeting — decisions, questions, status
  • Create no to-dos / action items
  • Don’t follow up from the last meeting (should be easy, since you didn’t document anything!) :-)

Have an attitude problem

There’s a few different ways to ruin a meeting by being in a particular state of mind. You might try to…

  • Be abusive — interrupt others, shout at them, scowl, pull rank, call people names, don’t listen to anything anybody says, and just constantly push your own agenda!
  • Be indifferent — ignore everyone else, sit with arms crossed, use your computer all the time, work on private stuff, and you might also listen to music or watch YouTube!
  • Be super-over-the-top hyped! Talk all the time, agree with everything people say, and have a can-do attitude about absolutely everything, no matter how absurd.

For a bit of extra fun

You might spice things up by…

  • Putting a thumbtack on a chair (oh man, that never gets old!)
  • Bring a shaver and buzz somebody’s head
  • Drop the next person’s phone in the coffee
  • Tip over your glass of water into somebody’s laptop / groin / shoes
  • Mute the speaker on your video conference (teeehee!)
  • Put tape over the lens of the video conference camera

Thanks for reading

This has simply been a bit of fun with negative brainstorming .. it’s interesting how easy it can be to generate what NOT to do — and then of course you can spend some time reversing those things to find more benign patterns :)

Skjoldbroder

Written by

UX Designer, illustrator & terrible musician. Currently trying to nail hyperrealistic charcoal portraits - my friends suffer the consequences.

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