Why Meetings Fail

If you have to call meetings with your staff (and you should consider seriously whether or not you really do), avoid making your meetings look like this.

Meetings can fail for many reasons, but I’d group the types of failed meetings into three main categories:

1) They’re “Meaningless Jargon Updates.”

You’ve attended these meetings. You go around the room, and everyone gives an update — using their department’s own jargon. The IT folks talk about new server architecture, and the attendees from Human Resources and Marketing start daydreaming about lunch.

2) They’re aimless.

If no one in the room knows why they’re there, or where the meeting is going or what it’s supposed to accomplish, how do they know if things are on track? How do they know what they should be talking about, or taking away from the discussion? Time to start daydreaming about lunch again.

3) They fail to motivate or inspire.

It usually comes down to this last reason: no one in the room feels inspired. They don’t care. They just want the meeting to end.

The best way to inspire in a meeting (or as a manager generally) is to show your team how what they’re doing connects to the larger picture.

If you call a staff meeting to investigate audio transcription tools, your team will come out of the meeting with tasks.

But suppose instead you call a meeting to discuss how you can add a transcript to your organization’s videos — because your website has a lot of deaf visitors and you want them to enjoy your videos too. Now your team will come out of the meeting with a purpose.

About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of MoneySavvyTeen.com, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.