3 Common Meeting Problems

(image source: fineartamerica.com)

Every business has an end goal they are trying to accomplish. While it can be easy to put a heavy focus on the final result, this approach tends to make goals seem less attainable, add unnecessary stress, and frankly make things less enjoyable. To paraphrase the Zen Master, the final result is only great because the process leading you there is also great.

Yvon Chouinard (environmental activist & founder of Patagonia) understands the value of focusing on the small steps that lead to big results in ‘Let My People Go Surfing‘:

 “Climbing mountains is another process that serves as an example for both business and life. Many people don’t understand that how you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

If you have a vision, focus on the process that allows you to accomplish those goals. This philosophy holds true in the meeting space and often makes daunting tasks seem a lot more manageable.

Here are three common problems that can be easily solved by focusing on the approach:

1) Problem: “My meetings are always running too long.”

    Goal: I want my meetings to stay on time.

  • Send a meeting agenda with a rough estimate on how long each topic will take. This will set expectations for how long discussion should run and set the stage for what’s most important in the allocated time.
  • Ensure co-workers receive calendar invites well in advance, so that they can have plenty of notice to come prepared and on-time.

2) Problem: “I don’t have time to attend every meeting my team has.”

    Goal: Stay informed, without taking too much time out of my already busy schedule.


  • Ask for a team member to take notes. Send out a post-meeting email including important highlights, assigned tasks, and necessary updates. This keeps everyone in the loop, and can be read at your convenience, rather than a specific time that you may already be booked for.
  • Does this meeting make sense for you to be there? If you can’t find a good reason, you probably don’t need to be there.

3) Problem: “My meetings typically go off topic and lack purpose.”

    Goal: Keep meetings focused on the crucial items of discussion.


  • Send out a meeting agenda with the calendar invite that includes specific topics that will be covered. This allows everyone to know what they are getting into, before they even step foot in the room.
  • As much as I hate the phrase “ice-breakers” – they can be very valuable in the beginning of a meeting. They let coworkers get their chatty jokes or weekend plans out of the way- before the meeting ‘starts’. Get creative with a fun topic before you get into the real meat of the meeting (
  • Adult learners always want to know WHY. If you can be up front about the purpose of the meeting and satisfy that question, it will be much easier to keep them focused and attentive.

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