Calling Time on the Boring Boardroom Meeting

  • Are meetings a total waste of time?
  • Alternatives to the boardroom
  • Sometimes it’s all about being practical

Michael Godsmark,

May 30, 2018

Ahhh, the humble meeting.

Sometimes it’s nice to get away from your desk for a meeting. It’s a chance for a catch-up with other team members, get some ideas flowing, and if you’re really lucky, a Danish pastry.

On the other hand, they can tear you away from what you’re doing when you’re deep in the flow, bore you senseless and leave you thinking that it definitely could have been dealt with in an email.

The meeting (or the ditching of) is a hot topic in the world of business right now. So what are the alternatives?


Go for a walk

Back in 2013, business guru Nilofer Merchant urged us all to get off our behinds and go for a walk outside instead.

Its benefits go far beyond getting the blood pumping and getting a nice little dose of vitamin D. A study at Stamford University set office workers a task to think of new uses for common household objects. When put on a treadmill, workers thought of 60% more ideas compared to those sat at their desks.

Last year, even Public Health England (PHE) recommended that office workers get out of their chairs and jump on to the walking meeting bandwagon.

But there are certain rules to the walking meeting, according to PHE chief exec, Duncan Selbie. It should be used to brainstorm only – not make important decisions, you should have an actual destination in mind, and keep participants to a maximum of three to avoid being one of those irksome groups of people who take up the entire pavement.

Verdict: Getting outside is definitely a treat, but we’re willing to bet neither Ms Merchant nor Mr Selbie have ever taken a walking meeting in the grey, miserable depths of a British winter. Great for summer months, or on a meander to the pub perhaps…


The stand-up meeting

The stand-up meeting, or the daily scrum, is a favourite in the fast-paced, trendy Silicon Valley. These workers are time-short and ideas-rich people, and the purpose of a daily stand-up meeting is to give a quick 15-minute burst of updates to the whole team at the start of each working day.

By updating others on a daily basis, and dealing with problems immediately as and when they arise, it aims to increase productivity elsewhere, and leave valuable time free for people to just get on with the important, nerdy stuff.

These meetings are conducted standing up (the clue’s in the name) to encourage briefness, and one – arguably sadistic – company has taken things further by encouraging (forcing?!) employees to plank while they’re talking to keep things super brief. Owch.

Verdict: It’s great to keep everyone in the loop, but can we keep the gruelling workouts to the gym please?


Just Walk Away

Last month a leaked memo from Tesla revealed that entrepreneurial favourite, Elon Musk, has told his staff to just walk out of a meeting if it’s clear they’re not adding any value.

“It’s not rude to leave,” was his reasoning. “It is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”

He has a point. Sometimes it’s obvious when you’re not needed – maybe you were accidentally cc’ed into the meeting request, or your team has nothing to do with what’s being discussed. But it’s more than a bit rude and undermines whoever is leading it. Meetings are sometimes boring, but what’s boring and unimportant to you could be critical for the rest of the team. And sometimes that cohesion is more important in the long-run than whether you’re personally engaged or not.

Verdict: Nice in theory, incredibly rude in practice. Just sit tight and enjoy the coffee.


If you book a meeting with us we promise not to be boring, and we definitely won’t make you plank. Get in touch to book yours today.

Author Photo

About The Author

Michael is an enthusiastic and cheerful individual who, when not hard at work, enjoys mountain biking, cooking curry and travelling to new places.


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