Business meetings are a fact of life in most companies. There are the poorly orchestrated meetings that test our patience without an agenda or real purpose. There are meetings whose topics somehow make people we always thought were rational look absolutely insane. And of course there are the meetings that challenge our physical capacity to sit for interminable hours without moving or answering the call of nature.

On the positive side, there are the meetings that everyone leaves smiling and saying “Great meeting!” Really? What does that even mean? After all, do we really know if a meeting was “great” or not until long after when we’re able to assess if something was actually accomplished?

The best meetings are well led and populated by people who can contribute to the outcome. These meetings result in meaningful action and can move an organization toward its objectives. These are the ones we can all feel great about.

But, let’s say you want to make certain you never get invited to a meeting again. Consider these actions, any one of which will get you banned for life from a meeting I’m leading!

  1. Don’t look at the agenda or any of the supporting materials beforehand. Be certain to ask questions that were answered in the documents you got last week.
  2. Repeat a suggestion that someone else raised ten minutes ago. It helps if you insist on taking credit for the idea.
  3. In response to an enthusiastic discussion about a solution, say “We’ve already tried that, it didn’t work.”
  4. Raise your hand. When recognized by the chair, say “I know this is off topic, but…”
  5. Interrupt anyone else at the table by criticizing an idea before they are able to complete their thought, and don’t forget the condescending tone.
  6. Look at your phone constantly or text throughout because anything else is more important than what we are here to discuss.
  7. Talk to your neighbor in hushed tones, chuckle, have side conversations and pass notes.
  8. Fail to say one single word or weigh in on a single item. When asked your opinion, look confused.
  9. Nod off. Even better, start to snore! The rest of us really need a story to tell when asked how we possibly got anything done with you there!