Leadership

The five worst things you can do in a meeting


Here are five meeting offenses that will not only drive your co-workers crazy, but will also damage your reputation within the workplace.

  1. Show up late - Occasionally there is an emergency that crops up that forces you to go into a meeting a few minutes late. But usually the culprit is poor time management. Consistently arriving late implies to your manager and your co-worker that you are either extremely disorganized or don't really respect the rules that everyone else follows.
  2. Bring your cell phone - Again, there could be special circumstances that would require having a cell phone in a meeting, such as a call from a doctor or your child's school. But if your cell goes off at every meeting and it's just your spouse needing to know if you'll pick up some Pudding Pops after work, shame on you. This behavior shows a lack of respect as well as a lack of commitment to your job.
  3. Have a side conversation - Nothing rankles a meeting leader more than two people having a whispered conversation separate from the topic at hand.
  4. Don't focus - Believe it or not, I've been in meetings when attendees have leafed through clothing catalogs or balanced their checkbook while the leader is talking. Trying to multi-task in a somewhat dull meeting might be tempting, but it's very rude. And don't think people don't notice.
  5. Talk just to hear yourself speak - It may be your way of raising your office profile, but hogging much of the meeting spotlight with philosophical ramblings will not do it. Be brief and succinct. Meetings are for communication; they are not your personal stage.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

178 comments
jck
jck

[b][i] Here are five meeting offenses that will not only drive your co-workers crazy, but will also damage your reputation within the workplace. 1. Show up late - Occasionally there is an emergency that crops up that forces you to go into a meeting a few minutes late. But usually the culprit is poor time management. Consistently arriving late implies to your manager and your co-worker that you are either extremely disorganized or don???t really respect the rules that everyone else follows. [/i][/b] Someone should tell bosses this. I can't count the number of times that the boss has walked in late to a meeting and said "Oh I was tied up with something else." which really meant to us "You're just not as important that I couldn't cut them off to meet with you on time." [b][i] 2. Bring your cell phone - Again, there could be special circumstances that would require having a cell phone in a meeting, such as a call from a doctor or your child???s school. But if your cell goes off at every meeting and it???s just your spouse needing to know if you???ll pick up some Pudding Pops after work, shame on you. This behavior shows a lack of respect as well as a lack of commitment to your job. [/i][/b] Again, someone should tell management this. I've had management, in the middle of my presentations of projects, sitting reading their text pagers or standing up and taking a phone call. Given, my presentations were not comical entertainment, but were never over 5 minutes. Maybe if their kid had been shot or hurt, I could understand. But, they always came back in after a call. [b][i] 3. Have a side conversation - Nothing rankles a meeting leader more than two people having a whispered conversation separate from the topic at hand. [/i][/b] If they're really whispering, the speaker can't know what they're discussing. Could be about what practical uses they see for something or a point to bring up. Not necessarily a protocol faux pas. [b][i] 4. Don???t focus - Believe it or not, I???ve been in meetings when attendees have leafed through clothing catalogs or balanced their checkbook while the leader is talking. Trying to multi-task in a somewhat dull meeting might be tempting, but it???s very rude. And don???t think people don???t notice. [/i][/b] This one I can agree on: never let them see you reading your issue of Playboy during the budget meeting. :^0 [b][i] 5. Talk just to hear yourself speak - It may be your way of raising your office profile, but hogging much of the meeting spotlight with philosophical ramblings will not do it. Be brief and succinct. Meetings are for communication; they are not your personal stage. [/i][/b] Actually, this is what most speakers do. They are often not concise and direct. They ramble on and try to be a snake-oil salesman. If I wanted a show, I'd go to the theatre. Just tell me facts, let's figure it out, and get out of that stuffy room. Now...for MY top 5 things not to do in a meeting: [b]1) Pick your nose:[/b] There is nothing more disgusting than seeing someone pick their nose in a meeting, knowing that you're gonna have to shake their hand later. [b]2) Tap fingers/pencils/fingernails on the table:[/b] If it were made legal, I would encourage speakers to throw the white board eraser at anyone doing this. Perhaps the only thing more annoying than this is someone who continually, loudly sucks food from their teeth at an after lunch meeting. [b]3) Passing gas:[/b] This should only be done at meetings involving relatives, fraternity brothers, or social organizations where hijinx are the norm. Otherwise, you should be fired for this at a professional meeting. [b]4) Get pissy with the boss:[/b] It can be bad enough when you do get pissy with a boss in normal circumstances, but it is even worse when you do it in a meeting of his other underlings...or worse, in front of his superiors. It's a sure way to make sure your name is next on the "No Christmas Card" list. [b]5) Becoming an origami master:[/b] There is nothing more that makes a speaker want to jump down from behind the podium while giving a talk about passive encryption than someone who is folding paper swans or airplanes and showing it to other attendees. OK...so that was a little comic relief. Hope someone laughed...

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

I cant stand to look at her face, i think her picture should have a 18 cert on it cause thats dam scary. As for this blog its comman-sence :-P

nonya
nonya

I swear to god, every Blog of hers that I read reeks with pretentious, mindless common-sense dribble and holds no substantive advise what-so-ever. CNet needs to stop advertising her work because I see an interesting article header, click on it, only to be greeted by her hideous face and self-gratifying statements.

chaz15
chaz15

The funniest thing and that giving most offence is business people making other people's business THEIR business!!!!!!!

mrbonine
mrbonine

Quick comments: The "no multitasking" rule should be applied very specifically to Laptops, PDAs, and Telephones, as well as the other items mentioned by authors. Nothing shows more disrespect than "attending" a meeting while working on your email, etc. If absolutely necessary and you are only in the meeting to monitor it very lightly, please sit in the back, or to one side and explain why you are reading and typing on your laptop at the beginning and ending of the meeting. This applies to everyone, CEOs, Presidents, VPs, managers. Showing up late, bringing distractions and using them, and other such behaviour, when done regularly, does not only show disrespect or lack of rule adhesion, but to me says one very important and extremely arrogant and/or rude thing: My time and attention is not only more valuable to everyone on the planet than the presentor/facilitator AND the combined value of the time and attention to each participant, in person, via teleconference, etc. - I've worked in cultures that allowed the above and found them nearly impossible to meaningfully influence, manage, change, or get anything very productive done. Unless they change the policy or ban nearly all meetings. - Cell phones turned to vibrate (not any tone or ring of any other kind) I consider to be not only OK, but expected. People now expect a wireless lifeline to some specific folks (partners, spouses, children, schools, hospitals, parents....). When someone unobtrusively places (not on the table!) a phone on vibrate in a convenient pocket, purse, seat next to them, or floor, and checks the caller ID if the phone should buzz, then immediately excuses themselves from the room (or call) before answering the call that seems to me completely within proper behaviour. If they don't return to the meeting before it ends, however, they should at least explain/apologize to the group later.

gcarter
gcarter

..unless this was mentioned previously

mashelle88
mashelle88

Believe it or not, a not-wrapped-too-tight coworker of mine actually sat there and knitted for 25 minutes during MY cubicle meeting, stating that this is the only time she could catch up on her knitting! LOL

JimInPA
JimInPA

That is me :^0 I am always making something out of my meeting agenda.

jdclyde
jdclyde

in their little minds. You are the minions, there to do their bidding. What THEY do is important stuff..... very common among people in upper management to have an exaggerated sense of self worth.

jdclyde
jdclyde

that show up and add so much to the discussion. And then, there are people like you.

terry flores
terry flores

We were in a departmental meeting when "Joe" fell asleep in his chair. The boss looked at us, then quietly ushered all of us out of the room and turned off the lights. You can imagine Joe's surprise when he woke up 20min later alone in a dark room! He never did it again ...

glgruver
glgruver

What about the person (its usually a guy) who chews tobacco and expectorates into a paper cup or a soda can? Totally gross!!! I once had a boss who did just that and I still encounter this behavior on occasion.

jck
jck

i would throw a white board eraser at you and yell: STOP FOLDING DUCKS, GINSU! :^0

jck
jck

you didn't even chuckle at my list lol :p

JamesRL
JamesRL

I try my best as does my boss to get to meetings on time. If I am chairing the meeting, I will move heaven and earth to either make it on time, or reschedule. But if senior management isn't there to chair, or even make decision, but only to audit, often they do have more pressing matters to attend to. My boss is often late, but he works 60 hour weeks, does emails on vacation and still delegates many things to his staff - he just has a tremendous workload and certain things can't be delegated and others can't wait. If he is 5 or ten minutes late, he can catch up. If he misses it altogether one of his staff can brief him. One of my VPs missed a meeting yesterday and called me afterwards. He had taken a relative to the hospital, and he asked for an update, which I was happy to give. If senior management can skip a meeting, it often means they actualy trust the people running the meeting to make good decisions. James

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

I am not a loser i was just having a laugh, it's called a joke were i come from.

JimInPA
JimInPA

s/h/it is a seagull too.

jck
jck

i'm his little leftist wingnut :p :^0

inachu
inachu

I ha a manager who always spoke with his tie. By that I mean as he spoke he would shake his tie in the air in beat with his words.

jbb1
jbb1

...he couldn't have gotten away with it. "Manners? We don't need no stinkin' manners."

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

The worst is the guy that leaves that smelly, nasty spit can on his desk...blech. Let me add to that the trashcan spitters...EWWWW...Please don't do that.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Unfortunately (!) I've never in my life seen anyone chew tobacco - I think it must be an American thing - but I have read about it and there must be little more horrid to have to deal with. My approach - if it goes in your mouth it stays there! See how well that goes down! (Pun intended)

jdclyde
jdclyde

until the snickers were over before I posted, is all.... :p

jdclyde
jdclyde

And I was referring directly to Johns example. In your example, while said more diplomatically, it does agree with what I said, and they have more important things to worry about than being in your meeting. My new boss is notorious for missing his weekly meetings, but that is because they are basically status update meetings, and he has way to much on his plate to do most of the things he does. We walk by his office to see if he is in, to get an idea of if we will be having our department meeting that week or not. Our meetings ARE a very low priority, but just his way of trying to keep communication lines open. No biggie. If there is something important, I go see him directly, so he isn't worried about missing anything.

jck
jck

There are times when missing/being late are understandable. I've just seen times when a manager or director would be standing talking in the hall to someone and not keep track of time, then be late from having casual conversations (once, one manager i walked by and heard him talking to another manager about his boat...so...it wasn't business oriented talk that made him late). I just guess I've worked for the wrong people in my life most of the time. Seems that the attitude is "Do as I say...not as I do" with most of them. Yet another reason I want to work for myself: I can stick to my own rules.

maecuff
maecuff

That's called mean spirited where 'i' come from.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

That sums it all up in a nice, neat little package people.

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

were you come from but were i (I) come from its 2 words lol :p but again G-man to keep you happy uppercasing lol

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

Well i (I) am sorry for not upper casing my (I) an i (I) will do so from now on :p ha ha

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

we use "I" not i when refering to oneself in text. Hey, don't worry! I'm just making a joke at your expense, you seem know how it goes.

jdclyde
jdclyde

"Was". After all, this is a zombie discussion.... ;\

jck
jck

and who says i haven't already been there? ]:) Nah...really...i tried match, yahoo personals, eharmony, etc...etc...etc... I'm just really too picky. Takes a special girl to get my interest. And at this point, there are about 3 women left on the planet I think I'd come out of my funk to date. No offense to any women here....honest. I am just burnt, and I hate feeling like charcoal. Oh well. Back to VBA programming. I gotta get this interface fixed. someone finally found a bug in some 4 year old code. Here I am again...fixing other peoples' f-ups. :^0

jck
jck

step-dad :^0 NeilB is already "dad"...sorry you're gonna have to be 2nd best...again :^0 :p ;) And yeah, I'm gonna sit down for a few. I am sick of being stood up...so to speak ;) Who knows. Maybe I'll meet me a good girl one day. If not, I'll donate all my stuff to some cute stripper and she can live the lavish life. :^0

jdclyde
jdclyde

but the night is getting late, and we are almost out of dances. I choose not to sit my life on the side line. Time to tango! :D

jck
jck

gonna look or entertain it. there's one other girl in the whole of the United States that has a chance with me now, and she's 1500 miles away from me. and if she doesn't even pan out, then i'm moving to Europe. the women there seemed to like me more anyways.

jdclyde
jdclyde

That is the term you need to learn. There are a lot of people that just suckass, but that doesn't mean everyone does. Mind games? I don't play them because I don't care enough to get drawn in. B-) It is the drama free life for me. ;\ And no, I do not approach ladies this young, but if they approach me, who am I to say no and ruin their whole day? :D That would be rude! :p

jck
jck

bah...i ain't even interested. i'm about convinced i will never get married. i might as well just donate to a sperm bank and let some random woman have my baby who wants a tall kid from a mutt father who played 9 instruments and scored over 1400 on the SATs. the last younger thing i got interested in led me on...for months...now has said "she just wants to be friends". go figure. so now when she wants to talk, i'll be a friend. i'll just go "yep. uh huh. right. okay. are you sure? ok then." like lots of people do. otherwise, i am not really interested. i told her from day one...not interested in playing mind games. that's what she's done. so, bye bye game girl. relegated to the $hitlist.

jdclyde
jdclyde

:D This ol' dawg was minding the porch until recently was approached by a cute young thing. B-) Life just might get pretty interesting, real soon. ]:) And no, can't mention just HOW young because Mae has had comments about women older than that, that I have seen in the last year or so. ;\ She doesn't have any kids and knows this dawg has been "fixed". sweeeeet! :p

jck
jck

Some dogs are civilised enough they don't need a leash...mutt!!! :p as for slobbering...nah...she's married. but, nice to look at and friendly. would never make a move even if she was single. i don't date co-workers either. in fact right now, i'm not gonna date anyone. this dog is going back in the dog house and keepin to himself for a while.

jdclyde
jdclyde

with a juicy T-bone steak just out of reach, is how you are spending your daze. :p Me? I am GLAD that we don't have hot babes in the office, because you don't sh1t in your own back yard. B-) Never date a co-worker, or even slobber over them from your desk... :p HAND CHECK! Now, get those hands where we can see them! :D

jck
jck

i have a memory, unlike you...geezer :p :^0 and besides...if i wanna play with hardware, i play with my own at home and not at the office :^0 jealous? haha. right. i look out my office door at a good looking secretary every day. how about you? ;)

jdclyde
jdclyde

there is no use being jealous of my talents. Best bet is to keep a note pad handy and just take notes regularly, hoping to learn something..... :D

jck
jck

rivals that of a bull in a china shop...nerf :^0 and by the way...you HAVE called me leftist wingnut in the past...so, it was your "weenie" term...WEENIE :p

jdclyde
jdclyde

and the correct term is "liberal weenie". :D That, though, doesn't change that the poster added nothing to the discussion. A shame my insult to him was to subtle for you.... weenie. B-)

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