Workers screaming at a conference call phone

Five Halloween-Inspired Meeting Horror Stories (And How to Make Them Less Scary)

Our mandate is to make meetings better through collaboration. Everyone has a scary meeting story – what’s yours? Here are a few to get the ball rolling.

  1. The phantom agenda. Attendees felt this was an urgent and important topic to meet about, but no one wrote up an agenda or structured outcomes for the meeting. Meetings with phantom agendas do not make us more productive, they waste time. How can you structure meetings for better collaboration? Check out Six Best Practices of a Collaborative Culture which includes videos from SMART’s own Scott Brown.
  2. The ghost on the line (we all forgot about). Remote knowledge workers are disembodied voices on impersonal voice systems who cannot contribute meaningfully to meetings on the phone. Video helps, but they are still just apparitions on the screen. Let’s co-create in the meeting and bring the remote employees out of the shadows with tools they can use to interact with content as if they are in the same room with us.
  3. The disappearing voice over IP. We have all been on calls where the remote employee mysteriously fades in and out. We’ve all witnessed this disappearing act — how’s your bandwidth, presenter? Double-check the quality of VOIP at your presenting location before the meeting starts if you are expected to present or share content for several minutes. If you know your VOIP set-up may not be ideal that day because you are traveling, perhaps ask a colleague at HQ to speak to your content for you and only chime in from Starbucks or the airport gate to elaborate.
  4. Meeting ‘zombies.’ Instead of saying “more brains,” these glazed-over meeting attendees say “must get to more meetings,” wandering the halls from room to room. More meetings do not mean more work, or better work. How do you reduce your zombie count? Maybe your meeting culture could be improved. Check out Brittany’s 3 Tips From Best-in-Class Collaborative Companies (Intel, Plantronics, IBM).
  5. Death by Slides. Perhaps the most horrific part of any meeting — 75 slides of information you could have read beforehand rather than have someone read them out to you when you are all together. What if you spent the first part digesting the information and then using the rest of it to problem-solve during the meeting? Tobias outlines this strategy in Meeting Collaboration: Going Beyond ‘Death by Slides.’

Make your meetings a little less spooky by taking the Inspired Collaboration Assessment and see how you score…if you dare! (Imagine that last bit in a Dracula voice.)