Stop Running Boring Meetings

Fill in the blank: most meetings ______. (Are boring. Don't accomplish anything. Are useless wastes of time. Suck.) You can fill in the blank any way you choose, and most of those ways are pretty terrible. If you want to ensure that your meetings and your students' meetings are boring, make sure to follow this advice:

Keep things quiet. It always sets the mood when everyone walks in to an awkwardly quiet space. No one comes to the meeting to connect and make friends anyway. No one wants their spirit awakened. No one wants more life from the meetings.

Start with minutes. One of the most thrilling times during any meeting is when you tell everyone who was at the last meeting what happened during the last meeting they were at. Works every time.

Jump right into issues. Everyone has issues. Every group has issues. Every club and org has issues. Start there because it's easy to whine and complain about things. It's all uphill from there.

Keep the same people talking. We're really tired of the attempt to get everyone to participate. People have been trying it for years. Stop that. We know 80% of the results come from 20% of the members. Keep it simple; why try to change the status quo?

Focus on reports. It's why everyone showed up: to hear about what's going on. No one actually wants to be a part of what's going on; they just want to hear about it. Remember this little nugget of genius: just talk the whole time. And if you can keep the talking to the executive boards, even better!

End late. Student who show up to these meetings don't have anything else to do. They are not a part of other clubs. They don't have significant others that take up every waking moment. There are no homework assignments and projects from class. They're not going to exercise. They don't have jobs. And they definitely don't have friends they want to hang out with.

You may be chuckling, but how many meetings have you sat through that challenged every one of your values and pinched every one of your nerves? It's time to stop running boring meetings.

Start with music. Reconnect to the vision. Open with highlights, acknowledgements, and gratitude. Encourage interactive discussions and create the space for sharing. Make meetings collaborative to focus on achieving something rather than talking about something. End early.

There you have it: the solution to your boring, unproductive, useless, sucky meetings.

Need proof? Here's an example of a student organization that averaged 25-30 members every week and applied just two of these principles: play entrance music as everyone comes in and have some sort of physical energizer or ice breaker. In one semester, they tripled their membership.


We had our first LDP meeting. Roughly 85 people! We were recruiting and dorm-storming like crazy. We are really finally seeing true growth because now we are in the biggest room in the Student Center. Many of the members branched out and got to know the newbies. I spoke to a lot of people and they loved it. We got the meaning of LDP across to the people.

I just wanted to update you on everything since you helped empower us. There can never be enough thanks for how you motivated the club. Best of luck!!

Your Big Fan,
 Brian Guo
— President, Leadership Development Program

Most meetings start awkwardly quiet. Instead, have some music playing as everyone comes in--a variety of music that almost everyone can appreciate and something that might even get people to bob their heads or sing out loud. Create mental and physical energy. We're used to this during shows and concerts and sporting events. Get people moving, even it's just their minds.

Tired of reading the minutes? Don't. (Unless Robert has certain strict rules you need to abide by.) Reconnect to the vision. Where is the group, club, or organization headed? What's most important to you? What are your values? What do you stand for? What's on the priority list right now? Focus on what you want, and you have a better shot at getting it.

Is it hard to rebound from talks about issues, concerns, and BMW (bitching, moaning, and whining)? Concentrate the first 5-10 minutes of each meeting on highlights (what's going well and what has been achieved since the last meeting), acknowledgements (who needs to be publicly recognized or rewarded for their efforts), and gratitude (why are we grateful to be on this journey together). That will change the entire dynamic of the meeting and the culture of the team.

Are the same people droning on and on and on? Yes, even the president and executive board can become drones every now and then. Encourage interactive discussions and create the space for sharing. You must create that space. It may be awkward or difficult to start, but so is everything (like working out, going on a first date, and learning to teleport). Make it fun to participate: do it in a different order each meeting, pass a ball or talking token around, or talk with different accents. The possibilities are not endless, but there are a lot of them.

Are reports getting you down? Yeah, most reports do. There's not much exciting about a report. But a collaborative experience where people are working towards something, working on a project, or cooperating on a goal that leads to the bigger that's a unique experiential meeting and a fantastic use of time. No one has free time in between meetings, anyways.

And of course, after this long, drawn-out, boring meeting, we can't wait to get out of there early. But here's always one more thing or a new topic comes up with just five minutes left or the leaders ask if there are any questions at the end of the meeting and of course there is one question that starts a whole new conversation while the clock ticks on towards the end of the meeting. Don't end any later than you absolutely, positively, must end. In fact, don't have a meeting that you don't absolutely, positively, without a doubt, need to have.


And if you do have to have the meeting, stop running boring meetings. They're slowly sucking the life out of the group.