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What bugs your boss about meetings … and what you can do about it

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in Meeting Management,Office Management

Starting or ending a meeting late ranks as the No. 1 complaint about company meetings, according to a survey by Accountemps.

Top pet peeves about company meetings among senior man­agers:

  • Not keeping to the schedule 31%
  • Unnecessary meetings 27%
  • People using PDAs or laptops for nonmeeting-related activities 18%
  • People interrupting each other 15%
  • Meetings scheduled during lunch 9%

One way to bring value to your role as an administrative pro­fessional is to proactively address some of these peeves, so your executive can work more effectively.


  • Attach time allotments for each agenda item.
  • Volunteer to be timekeeper for a standing meeting, to make sure the team sticks to the allotted times on the agenda.
  • When off-subject topics derail the meeting schedule, "park” them on a whiteboard titled "Parking Lot.” The group can acknowledge the topic, then get on with the agenda.
  • Close the meeting door, punctually, at the designated meeting time to signal the start of the meeting. You have a better chance of keeping to a schedule if the meeting starts on time.

5 Questions to Ask Before Every Meeting

Miri McDonald thinks unproductive meetings should be banned. And when a meeting is needed, it should be both productive and fun.

The communications strategist believes in thinking through every aspect of a meeting in advance—everything from the relationships between attendees to which open-ended questions will get a conversation going.

She recommends running through this list of questions to plan a productive, fun meeting:

1. Why meet? First, get clear on the purpose and outcomes.

2. Who needs to attend? Confirm that all stakeholders are invited, so that no key individual is left out of decisions. You don't want a meeting to stall because someone is missing.

3. Can technology enhance the experience? Consider using tools, such as mind-mapping software like FreeMind that allows for tracking the discussion or anonymous voting tools to capture real-time votes.

4. How can you set the stage? If the meeting is off-site, visit the room ahead of time so you can decide on the layout of tables and chairs.

5. What refreshments do you need? Think about how the time of day will affect energy levels and mood. Accordingly, have food, healthy snacks, and water or caffeine options.

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