Top 10 ways to stop bad meetings once and for all

Are meetings wasting your time and draining your will to live? Here's how to fight back...

...the rest of the meeting they will be totally uncooperative."

The chairperson should come up with a relevant introduction that is not necessarily presented to the group as an icebreaker, Locke advises.

"I try to come up with some kind of question that each person can answer, maybe an opinion or something. Then what I do is I go round the room and each person takes a turn to say something.

"By actually getting someone to say something at the beginning of the meeting, it gets them into that mode of speaking and the rest of the meeting they tend to speak up a bit more than they would otherwise."

4. Keep quiet if you're the boss

If the meeting involves the boss and other workers, the uneven power distribution can stop new ideas coming forward.

"There is research to suggest that the more confident you look or the more certain you seem to be, the less other people will actually speak up. People will think, 'Oh well, the boss really knows what he's talking about so I better not say anything'," Locke said.

"You should be the last person to give your opinion on something because, if you are the first person to give your opinion, then everyone is going to think, 'Oh, well the boss has an opinion, maybe I should agree'."

Ultimately, the group can end up making a bad decision because everyone is just agreeing with the most powerful person in the room, rather than listening to all opinions.

"As the boss and as the most powerful person in the room, you need to be conscious of that and basically shut up," she said.

Instead, the boss should ask lots of questions and give participants time to answer.

5. Encourage new ideas

To keep attendees contributing to the meeting and to get the most out of their involvement, bosses should be careful not to react negatively to new ideas at the risk of having all staff follow their lead and a consensus developed without the idea being properly considered.

"Say you're having a meeting and one person says something controversial - everyone is watching to see how the boss is going to react," Locke said.

If the new idea is welcomed and considered, then other participants are likely to come forward with suggestions of their own, according to Locke.

"If the boss says, 'That's stupid, don't ever bring up something like that again' then everyone will register that in their memory and from then on people speak less and less."

6. Visual aids

While it may seem like an obvious point, using visual aids in a meeting can be vital in keeping attendees focused.

"Using visual aids is very important because a lot of people are very visual. They like to see things, they like to experience things, as opposed to just listening to voices all of the time," MTD Training's McPheat said.

"I like to see diagrams or bullet points, even if it's just of the next topic. Just hearing people talk, 20 minutes in, you can just switch off completely."

There are many apps that smartphone and tablet owners can download to help create visual aids to be used in meetings such as the Whiteboard iPhone app which allows you to draw on top of images using your phone, and the iDesk app which helps you...

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