A boring meeting is a great opportunity to catch up with unread mails. Sure.
But why not address the cause instead of the symptoms? Why not work to prevent boring meetings from happening rather than look for ways to re-use boring meeting time?
The best way is to turn it into a doing.
But if it absolutely has to be a meeting, here are a couple of ideas:
- Cut the meeting time to one-third. And mean it. This is easy if everyone leaves out the boring two-thirds.
- Take a vote 5 minutes into each presentation asking: “Do you want to learn more?” Only move on if the majority vote is “Yes.” (You will be amazed at how much relevance you can fit into 5 minutes.)
- Use the Saari principle: anyone may ask “Who gives a damn?” at any time during the meeting. If the presenter or meeting leader doesn’t have an answer to that, the presentation is over.
- Like Amazon, forgo presentations in favour of a study hall. Instead of presentations, employees prepare memos. Reserve (let’s say) 30 minutes at the beginning of each meeting exclusively to reading these memos.
- Publicly rate the meeting as well as the organiser. This way you can quickly see who organises and leads meetings in a way that makes a difference.
Don’t give in to boring meetings, change them.
(And it always starts with ourselves).