INFOGRAPHIC: 3 things everyone hates about meetings

The next time you hold a meeting with your IT staff or other members of management, keep in mind these common meeting complaints – they’re likely the same pet peeves you’ve had during long business meetings.

The uselessness of business meetings is often joked about, but what separates a good meeting from a bad one? For most people, the difference lies in whether or not they’re the ones in charge.

That’s one of the messages in a new survey conducted by ManageElite. Among the 948 executives and managers surveyed, 90.4% say the meetings they’re in charge of are efficiently run — but just 34.8% say the same thing about the meetings run by other people.

And when meetings are bad, they can be really bad. Survey respondents said, on average, that nearly half (44.8%) of the meetings they attend accomplish nothing at all.

Of all the complaints execs and managers have about meetings, these are the biggest:

  • Time — The majority of respondents (61.8%) said the average meeting they attend last more than an hour, and nearly 40% said meetings don’t start or end on time.
  • People — Meetings are often bogged down by people advancing their own individual agendas, as 44.7% of respondents said people protecting their own turf was one of their biggest complaints about meetings. In addition, 38.3% said they attend meetings in which one or two people dominate the discussion, and 30.9% complained about attendees not being prepared for the meeting.
  • Frequency — One bit of good news in the survey: The majority of respondents (61.6%) said they attend the right number of meetings. However, that still leaves 22.4% who say they attend too many, and 16.0% who feel they don’t attend enough meetings.

To avoid those complaints, managers should take a few moments to answer important questions before they call their next meeting. Organizational effectiveness expert and author Thomas Kayser recommends using the acronym “PDORA”:

  • Purpose. If you don’t have an answer to the question, “Why are we here?” consider cancelling the meeting.
  • Desired Outcome. After spelling out the purpose, the next step is identifying what you expect to accomplish by the time the meeting’s over.
  • Assigned Roles. Figure out beforehand who will be in charge of what during the meeting — from the facilitators to presenters to the minute-taker.
  • Agenda. Map out how long various topics are likely to be discussed, and note the employees that are presenting at the meeting.

Here are the results of ManageElite’s survey, in infographic form:

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