Avoid sucky meetings. Get better at running meetings.

Sucky meetings. Everyone on cell phone.

Sucky meetings. Everyone on cell phone.

Lisa ran the weekly meeting. The first 10 minutes always started out with jokes and banter then slowly settled into a routine. The meeting lasted 45 – 60 minutes.  Actual topics were covered in less than half the time spent in the meeting. Lisa felt the meetings were also team building exercises.

Ned ran a weekly meeting where everyone who attended were on cell phones or computers actively doing something. Who knows. No doubt, actively taking notes about all the good conversation going on.

Conference call meetings.

Jim called a weekly meeting and it took 60 minutes regardless of the topics and issues to be addressed. On-going project status was never addressed. The topics tended to focus on changes company politics, budgets and who’s leaving the organization. Jim’s style is about open communication at all costs.

Merriam-Webster defines sucky as “awful.” According Merriam-Webster dictionary it was first used in 1984.

5 steps to avoid sucky meetings

What does it mean to avoid sucky meetings?


Be crystal clear about the purpose, agenda, topics covered in the meeting.

  • Set an agenda and make sure everyone knows.
  • Understand, as much as you can any ulterior motives for the meeting. Ask if the motives are tightly tied and aligned with your values–
  • Team building, exploration, numbers and efficiencies, communication.
  • Articulate why you are calling the meeting.
  • Define the outcome expected from holding the meeting.
  • Define the topics to be covered during the meeting
  • Organize the topics into an agenda with expected time.


Understand what type of meeting you are running. Sucky meetings happen when the meeting type is mismatched with an appropriate structure of the meeting.

There are several types of meetings and all require different approaches to be effective.

  1. Strategy planning meetings Figure out direction and approaches. This type of meeting can take time. Often more than an hour.
  2. Operational status meetings. Define projects and tasks to tackle issues. Assign owners and deadlines.
  3. Brainstorming meetings. Collect expertise and define project structure.
  4. Project pitch meeting. Pitch an idea to gain to support. Often less than 30 minutes.
  5. Status update meetings. Tell audience the status of projects.
  6. Team huddle meetings. Deal with on-going issues and obstacles around established projects. 20-60 minutes.
  7. One-on-one meetings. Deal with specific project and execution issues. 30- 60 minutes.

Take a look at the article “Step-by-step guide to structure better meetings” published by HBR.


Invite those who can are necessary and sufficient to your meeting. Everyone attending plays a relevant role. Those who attend for FYI reasons are not necessary for the meeting. I’ve found there are group of people that want to be in-the-know, others want to be “devil’s advocates.” These people can enhance the experience of sucky meetings. Decide who is necessary to accomplish the goals of the meeting and then go with it.


Recap and followup with the results of the meeting to those in attendance and those who can benefit from the meeting. A quick email or collaboration tool can help record what decisions were made, tasks to be tackled and who is responsible.


Facilitate the meeting to your style. Keep in mind that facilitation follows some specific guidelines to be effective.

  • Understand your style and motives getting people together. Play off your motives but do not fall prey to them, like our examples above did.
  • Allow each person to participate as much as they want and can.
  • Keep on time, respecting each attendee’s time.
  • Record the results and follow up after the meeting.

Go out and have good meetings.  Become productive and most importantly, be effective and avoid sucky meetings.

Become the excitement — Make things happen.

Give me a call at 503-753-9971 or email me at Phil@PhilBride.com. Let’s set up complimentary 20 minutes to talk through what’s on your mind.


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