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Meetings are Bad For You

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the listen-up-ostg dept.

Businesses 283

19061969 writes "Though this is obvious to most of us, your PHB's might benefit from knowing that meetings are bad for you. Two psychologists have found evidence that the number of and the time spent in meetings has a detrimental effect on mood. "...a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found", write the authors after conducting a diary study. Perhaps we should be more understanding with our moody bosses?"

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Memo from your PHB (5, Funny)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489749)

Memo from your PHB

We need to have a meeting to discuss these findings!

Re:Memo from your PHB (4, Funny)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489775)

... after you turn in your TPS report. You got the memo on that, right?


Re:Memo from your PHB (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489789)

Memo from your PHB We need to have a meeting to discuss these findings!

That's okay - I have a doctors' note.

Things are different in sales (5, Interesting) (942466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489838)

I know that most people here work on the "create the product" part of industry, or so it seems, but when you're like me, meetings are a wonderful thing.

I work in sales. The more that I can understand our products, the better of a salesman I can be. I"m not the type of person that will try to make up things because they want products to look good -- instead, I try to be as knowledgeable as I can, because from what I have seen, the more knowledgeable that the buyer sees that I am, the more trusting they are of me, and therefore more willing to buy what I am selling.

I don't spend a large amount of my time in meetings, but at least for me, the meetings that I am a part of, each bit of information that I receive on a product ends up selling at least another few units, so they're great for me.

Re:Things are different in sales (5, Funny)

acvh (120205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490008)

A thoughtful, intelligent, insightful post.

Therefore, you CAN'T be a salesman.

Except for the part about liking meetings. Every sales guy I've worked with loves meetings. They want to have meetings for everything - except when they're booking my time on conference calls.

Re:Memo from your PHB (1)

jlp2097 (223651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489892)

Obligatory link [] . The whole storyline is well worth reading :-)

Re:Memo from your PHB (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489899)

  1. Mad dash to grab the last available seat.
  2. Fiddle with starfish phone to find status of people conferencing in.
  3. Figure out how to get slide projector to work.
  4. Shoo away the person at the door looking for the sales meeting, after a brief standoff.
  5. Show PowerPoint slides starting with new org chart
  6. Ask if everyone can read the slides. "Well, maybe you can move up."
  7. Someone asks a tough question. After a quick deflection fails: "Let's take that offline".

Re:Memo from your PHB (2, Funny)

witcomb (636938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489912)

We need to have a meeting to discuss these findings!
Just reading that post raised my stress levels. Whoever modded that up as funny should be sentenced to death by meeting.

Action items (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489750)

Let's meet and discuss some action items to deal with that.

bollocks (1, Insightful)

elynnia (815633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489756)

Bollocks. Meeting are held for a reason - and usually an important one to which mood can step back for. The submission title presents meetings as bad overall, while the article says -too many- meetings are bad. elynnia

Re:bollocks (2, Insightful)

dchallender (877575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489806)

It is arguable as to whether a lot of meetings are held for a GOOD reason.
Bad management often leads to a plethora of needless meetings.
I always like the approach of having meetings standing up - suitable uncomfortable, focuses minds, people soon only schedule meetings that are really required, and they are brief.

Re:bollocks (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489822)

too many meetings are bad.
"Too many" anythings are bad.

That's what "Too many" means...

Re:bollocks (1)

dchallender (877575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489865)

Nah...too many orgasms is an oxymoron, and definitely not bad ;-)

Re:bollocks (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489932)

The Energizer Bunny died when they put his batteries in backwards and he kept coming and coming...


Re:bollocks (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489879)

bollocks meetings! I'd say 50% of the meetings I've had to go in my 24 years in corporate life were completely useless. Most of the remainder were somewhat useful. Too many people suffer from "Fidel Castro" syndrome, using a meeting to show themselves off and pontificate to increase their self-importance. I'd love to see some of these wankers forbidden to hold a meeting for a month, and after a couple training sessions on holding an effective meeting, be on probation and allowed to maybe hold a 20 minute one.

Re:bollocks (4, Insightful)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489916)

Meeting are held for a reason

Most of the time, that reason is to make middle managers (whose job consists exclusively of writing memos and attending meetings) look busy. The more incapable the manager is of writing effectively and/or the more unwilling to have a record of exactly what they said, the more likely you are to have a full daily schedule of meetings.

Now watch as I reveal the one most evil and stupid word in modern business - communication. Not simply the actual fact of doing so, but the implication that communication solves all business problems, sort of like how everyone thought communication solved all marital problems back in the 80's when it was popular to say that. Communication is a load of horse shit. There is no such thing as a communication problem. Every "communication" problem in modern business is in fact a confidence problem. The information is readily available, but 2 things block its distribution: 1 - Managers don't like to go on record. They don't reply to e-mails, for example. They lack the confidence to go on record with whatever they want to say. Here's an idea - if you don't have the balls to put your "communication" on paper with your name on it for all to see, then STFU. If you lie frequently enough that committing anything to writing hampers your ability to work, then you need to be fired. 2 - For the reasons documented above, employees have no confidence in anything managers have to say. I've never seen anything cited as a communication problem that was not actually communicated in fact. "I guess we need better communication between you/your department and me/my department." has become the polite and meaningless mea culpa for the business age.

NO! We don't need more communication. We need to STFU and get back to work!

Re:bollocks (2, Insightful)

SomebodyOutThere (904136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490047)

Are y'all kidding? Did you RTFA? This is the silliest kind of BS social science/business "research" possible. Whatever may be true of meetings, this "study" sure doesn't demonstrate it. Sheesh.

Well, no freakin' kidding! (4, Funny)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489757)

More meetings = less time to do real work = perception (reality) of more stress!

In other news, the sky is blue.

Re:Well, no freakin' kidding! (1)

chrisnewbie (708349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489840)

Yeah but sometimes you need those meetings so the independant ass tekkie or programmer is on the same page as the rest of the god damn department.
And in a organisation with mutliple site and staff everywhere, it's a good thing to get one of those once in while, kind of like bonding team members.

Too many cuts productivity i agree, but no meeting at all just gets everyone to have personnal agenda and this is counter-productive.

Re:Well, no freakin' kidding! (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489942)

More meetings = less time to do real work

I have found that one meeting a week is sufficient; I tell people where I'm at on what I'm working, what my schedule looks like, and to remind them to provide me with concise details for any projects they may have upcoming. Past that, the odd development meeting where I might have to collaborate with someone, but the fact is you should only ever really have to have one meeting to determine who does what, and then actually give them the time to do it.

Yeeeaaaahh... no. (5, Insightful)

lewp (95638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489759)

"Perhaps we should be more understanding with our moody bosses?"

Perhaps not. Most meetings are scheduled by said moody bosses because they can't be bothered to read their email or meet one on one with the people who are actually getting work done. Sure, they're busy otherwise, but most of the reason they're busy is because of this meeting culture that equates sitting around a table talking about what you're going to have your minions do (as soon as they get out of the meetings you force them into) with getting code written and products shipped.

The main reason I hate meetings so much is because I get the impression that the only people getting anything out of them are the ones contributing nothing useful to the project in the first place. I don't care if your job is to sit between me and your boss, if you can't keep up with a project you're a part of without dragging me away from my actual work to hand-hold you through what's going on twice a week, you're wasting my time.

That was 90% of the meetings last place I worked, and this accounted for probably half the reason I got fed up with the place and quit before Christmas. Maybe I'm just not cut out to work somewhere that has more than a few employees, and I've never claimed to be a people person, but everybody I talked to felt much the same way, so I feel at least somewhat validated.

Face to face contact is great, but the instances where that face to face contact's value outweighs the cost of herding a bunch of people into a conference room for a chit chat are few and far between when there are deadlines to meet, IMHO.

It explains a lot... (2, Informative)

Stachybotris (936861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489910)

At one of my former jobs, fully half of each meeting was dedicated to other meetings. We'd spend about 15 minutes recapping the last meeting, and another 30 setting the agenda for the next one! I think it may just be for the reason you cited - even though the higher-ups in the meetings were 'constantly in touch with each other', they never really seemed to know what anyone else was doing or if any progress had been made. The net result was that I was pulled away from my work for twice as long as should have been necessary and got less accomplished than should have been possible.

Then again, I was working for the state...

Sample meeting... (1, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489760)

"...a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found"

OK then. To counter that, bosses should never assign work, or require work be done for a meeting. Make it more like, "Yo dude, what's up?" "Cool." "See Ya."

Re:Sample meeting... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489842)

I worked at a place like that. While it was a fun place to work, unsurprisingly, very little work was ever done.

Fast Meetings for Me! (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489847)

I like fast meetings:
"I gots this"
"This thing sucks, and I did this -- how 'bout you?"
"Oh, I did this thing, and broke the build."
"Ah-ha, you get the chicken!"

Meetings should be over before your coffee gets cold. More time for work = more productive. People typing in meetings shouldn't be there.

This will get discussed further...... (0, Redundant)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489762)

Great, now I can probably expect to get invited to a series of meetings to discuss the detrimental effects of attending meetings......

Do you not find... (1)

thos_thom (723520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489763)

...that meetings gear you up for work that needs to be done, perhaps its just the company i work for but, i enjoy my meetings. Make me all exciteable. Perhaps i just need to work in the industry for a bit longer.

Re:Do you not find... (1)

Roydd McWilson (730636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489933)

Could you tell us more about your meetings? I think it would be great to know how to make meetings positive and exciting!

Re:Do you not find... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489966)

i enjoy my meetings. Make me all exciteable. Perhaps i just need to work in the industry for a bit longer.

You sound just like a coworker of mine. Meetings make him excitable, and he's been in the industry a long time. However, I suspect his excitability may lead him to bring semi (or fully) automatic weapons into the work one day.

It just needs one more analyst to say, "I know you've been working 80 hour weeks on this project, but I wish you'd release your code 100% bug-free into the QA environment. Don't you test at all?"

I don't understand (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489766)

I'm not sure I understand the findings. I know I'm always pleased when my boss "delegates" his full workload to me at a meeting.

In related news... (0, Troll)

thames (558443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489767)

it is reported that baning your head against the wall is bad for you.

meeting load...! eh? (1)

ladyKae (945309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489770)

"...a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found"
Is'nt the whole point of meetings was too not do any work...

central insight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489772)

Their central insight, they say, is the concept of "the meeting as one more type of hassle or interruption that can occur for individuals".

that's their central insight? is this news to anyone?

Re:central insight (2, Funny)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489785)

Don't worry, I'm sure the study was only partially funded by federal money...

God I hate Marketing (3, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489776)

"Meetings are Bad For You"
No shit .. having an informal conversation with someone from a marketing Department for 5 minutes is bad enough.
Having to sit with them for an Hour as they drivel total Bullshit, is enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown

Re:God I hate Marketing (4, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489819)

Come to think of it ..
Do you think that "Meeting related stress and depression" would get me off with diminished responsibility , if i perform a killing spree.
If so , I am going to invite the marketing department on a hunting trip ..A hunt for the ultimate Prey .. MAN

Shooting yourself in the foot? (4, Funny)

CoderBob (858156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489777)

Rogelberg has delivered this insight in a talk called "Meetings and More Meetings," which he presented to a meeting at the University of Sheffield. He also does a talk called "Not Another Meeting!", which has been well received at two meetings in North Carolina.

Am I the only one that found this whole statement funny? I would think that they would release the paper to trade magazines and such to get their findings out, rather than waste time with meetings about how meetings are bad. That sounds like shooting yourself in the foot to me.

Re:Shooting yourself in the foot? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489813)

Something tells me a followup meeting was scheduled to discuss the success of the presentations given at the prior meetings.

ObSideshowBob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489934)

"And yes, before you ask, I am aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it."

Re:Shooting yourself in the foot? (5, Informative)

alicenextdoor (910558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490044)

I don't know if you noticed, but the author of the Guardian piece is Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research [] , a publication which looks at genuine research in a mocking sort of way. They award the IgNobel Prizes for research which "cannot or should not be respeated". Abrahams books are absolutely classic.

Too few meetings can be bad too (4, Insightful)

706GL (172709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489778)

While number of meetings is important, I think that spending all day, every day in your office with no idea what anyone else is doing could be just as detrimental. I go to like 3 meetings a month so it takes me forever to find out what other people are doing.

reminds me of a story... (4, Interesting)

gregarican (694358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489780)

I worked at a remote office for my previous employer. One time they flew me into their corporate headquarters to participate in a software replacement plan. I spent the better part of each day going from meeting to meeting. At the end of the last day I asked one of the people escorting me around "With all of these meetings how do y'all get any work done?" He looked at me seriously and said, "That's the idea." I went back to my remote world with even less respect for CHQ...

Meetings, ahhh no (0, Flamebait)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489783)

Do nothing for me. I give me presentations but get so little out of them. The Annual meeting is ok. 15 minute presentation, 71 Hours 45 Minutes vacation. July is in Vegas, had to cancel New Orleans. Oh, is kicking this sites ass as far as interesting and relevant topics are concerned. Not too mention timely. But keep trying /..

Because- (5, Funny)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489788)

There's NOTHING more important than feeling good. We learned that in the '90s.

Something needs to be done about meetings... Perhaps more laws, counselling, medication... for the children.

Medication is Meeting Alternative? (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489863)

Can it be true? Can medication be a meeting alternative?

Re:Medication is Meeting Alternative? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489893)

I don't know about that, but after some of those meetings, I NEEDED medication!

Re:Medication is Meeting Alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14490036)

LOL @ this , literally

Re:Because- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489900)

You forgot (Poland..), meetings also drive away terrorists and help defeat the tactic known as terrorism.

What's the deal? (1)

Monkeys!!! (831558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489790)

As someone who doesn't work in a buisness environment, I'm curious to what goes on meetings and what exaclty causes so much stress in them. Anyone care to bring me up to speed?

Its perception (1)

str3ssh3d (917854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489864)

TFA goes into this; in a nutshell - if you perceive a meeting as an interuption then it will stress you out because you are being forced to do something other than your [perceived] day-job.

Re:What's the deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489871)

Here's a bottomless source of information on that and related subjects: []

Re:What's the deal? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489877)

As someone who doesn't work in a buisness environment, I'm curious to what goes on meetings and what exaclty causes so much stress in them. Anyone care to bring me up to speed?

Sure. Of course I can only speak for meetings where I work, but I'll give it a shot. A meeting is an hour or so out of your day that could typically be spent get work done. It seems like meetings are most likely to occur just when I get on a roll toward solving a problem. We have some meetings that require us to travel to other locations, so the entire one hour meeting time can stretch into the two to two and half hour range. Perhaps the worst part about a lot of meetings is that there is no material to cover (just getting the entire staff together for some "face time"), or so little information it would've been just as productive to shoot an email out to pass along the info and/or solicit feedback.

And that's not even touching on meetings where you find out someone else hasn't gotten a thing done all year, and you're the lucky person that gets to assist them while maintaining your current work load.

Re:What's the deal? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489902)

Well, although I do not work on a buisness environment, I can tell you that, the Weekly meetings with my "boss" give me shudders.

You may find an explaniation here []

One common problem (0, Troll)

flyinwhitey (928430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490023)

Is a meeting where the same topic is rehashed over and over. There are a lot of people who think it is necessary to explain things ad nauseum in as many different ways as they can. I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it if there were a way to opt out once you get the point. This is one of the main sources of frustration at many of my meetings.

Re:What's the deal? (1)

nocaster (784709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490024)

Most of the meetings I have attended revolve around the same subjects every time. There are all of these "important" issues that must be addressed but the only time anyone thinks about them is during the meeting. After everyone talks for an hour about all of the things they are not really going to do and every topic on the agenda has been hashed over for the third time, it is customary to ask everyone in the room if they have anything else to add before adjourning. This is when the sourest, grumpiest person who has not said a word during the entire meeting will pull out a laundry list of nonsense gripes and complaints and will filibuster the meeting for another half our or so.

Productive workers (1)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489793)

Isn't this just an extension of "a happy worker is a productive worker" that was the foundation of casual Fridays etc?

Considering the cash blown on the .com boom you'd hope a lesson or two would have stuck.

Funny adult videos daily []

Re:Productive workers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489853)

*shoots Matty with a nerf gun*
For old times' sake.

Balance is the key (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489797)

You need a balance of meetings.

Key is to not invite non-Stakeholders. Certain meetings are needed for people to feel empowered to produce and cetrain meetings just make people wither on the vine. What you want to accomplish at the meeting?

Re:Balance is the key (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489953)

That's why Scrum can be good - if you follow all the rules [] .

Don't just sit there, do something! (4, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489798)

A friend of mine told me once how badly their office was run.

The biggest problem, in his opinion, was the number of meetings that they had in order to discuss the projects they were working on. Frustration built up among employees due to not having enough time to actually do the work, as well as the number of times that he was interrupted in the middle of doing something productive - simply to go to another pointless meeting.
In his opinion, these meetings caused just as many problems as they tried to solve, and ironically, they would sometimes generate more meetings to discuss how far they were along in meeting their original deadlines.

I would tell you more about it, but I have a meeting to attend.

True (?) Meeting Story (5, Funny)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489802)

I read in Reader's Digest many years ago about a plant manager who loathed meetings. A worker was injured on the job, which prompted a series of long "safety meetings." This propmpted the manager to post signs throughout the plant that read:

Work Safely! Accidents cause Meetings!

Psychologists Are Bad For You. (1, Informative)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489803)

Really, saying 'meetings are bad for you' is just a way for psychology to have influence over business management.

Whats bad for you is over-psychologizing about all sorts of things .. thats definitely bad for you.

Meetings are good for people who have to work together and coordinate things together, and good meetings result in happy, productive people. Its quite possible to have bad, cheesy, Office-Space style meetings that go nowhere, but its equally possible to have effective management of meetings so that in fact, work gets done.

If all you do is sit around in the meeting room, psychologizing about things, then you'll definitely come out crapped out. Get work done, communicate effectively, use meetings as a proper tool. Then you'll feel good ..

Re:Psychologists Are Bad For You. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490064)

This can be rephrased as 'The generic application of a solution for the solutions sake is retarded'.

Correlation is not causation (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489805)

...a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found

Maybe an employer who schedules a burdensome number of meetings is also likely to encourage a workplace that increases employees' fatigue. I don't see any proof of causation here.

But... (1)

geo_2677 (593590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489809)

"Perhaps we should be more understanding with our moody bosses?"
who calls for meeting in the first place.

Objectives. (4, Interesting)

Tethys_was_taken (813654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489815)

I remember reading that meetings are an ideal way to get some things done:
1)Pool expertise from different departments
2)"Gather" authority for cross-department tasks
3)Get feedback and progress reports from different departments
4)Discuss critical issues that require human interaction
5)Criticise new products and techniques from different points of view

When used properly, meetings can be powerful tools... But the ONLY reason I see meetings being used anymore is POLITICS! To palm off responsibility, blame someone else, avoid work, act important, establish power ("I called a meeting because I can"), or just generally be a waste of organizational oxygen. No wonder people hate them... The last thing most techs and researchers want is to get mired in office politics.

A meeting conducted properly is a huge help. It can speed up things and make your goals and objectives a whole lot clearer than they ever were, but unfortunately some people just don't seem to get that.

Re:Objectives. (1)

Nigel_Powers (880000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489921)

Meetings can also be used to "buy" additional time, or to push off a project of which you don't want any part. Simply recommend that for X initiative, that it be reviewed and signed off by the legal and/or compliance depts. That pretty much guarantees that all momentum will be halted for at least six months.

They're important to the overall picture (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489821)

I'm the sole IT support for a manufacturing company. I meet once a week with the managers and key staff in order to update them on the projects that I have running as well as to assign tasks that need to be done. It's certainly feasible to meet with each one on their own and convey what I need done, but that would take quite longer than a 45 minute meeting. Not all meetings are pointless wastes of time. Maybe it's just the way that your company runs them.

Meetings are fine (1)

cheezemonkhai (638797) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489829)

They give you more time to sleep in.

In most meetings at least one person is dozing off a bit.
The problem isn't meetings, it is too many meetings to the extent that the time taken to do the job is occupied by meetings so there is no time to do the work in hand.

Are you lonely ? Call a Meeting (5, Funny)

COredneck (598733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489834)

I use to have this at my old job that was posted. Some of the high-ups were not impressed.

Are you Lonely ?

Don't like working on your own ? Hate Making Decisions ?

Then Call a Meeting !!!!


SEE people
DRAW Flowcharts
FEEL Important
IMPRESS your collegues
FORM subcommittees
MAKE meaningless recommendations
All on Company Time


The pratical alternative to work.

Re:Are you lonely ? Call a Meeting (3, Funny)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489991)

Yeah, I used to work for a client who applied to just those rules.
The guy took 45 minutes to 1 hour EVERY DAY of a 10-man team (all consultants and payed by the hour) for the purpose of making himself look useful.
A couple of guys slept during most of it, another instant-messaged and the rest of us felt our life-force been sucked out of us, slowly.
The meeting where 95% of the time pointless, and the guy scratched endlessly on his notepad every single word, nice and slowly (we had to speak slowly so he could note it all).

disturbing paragraph from article (4, Funny)

grag (597728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489858)

There is something disturbing about this paragraph from the article:

Rogelberg has delivered this insight in a talk called "Meetings and More Meetings," which he presented to a meeting at the University of Sheffield. He also does a talk called "Not Another Meeting!", which has been well received at two meetings in North Carolina.

Extremes are bad (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489866)

I'm sure it would be as bad at the other extreme - if you never met anyone, hwo well would you do your job then?

Alternate meeting form (2, Interesting)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489867)

Best manager I've worked for hated meetings, when a meeting was unavoidable he made us stand up during the meetings. The effect on the meeting was amazing, people got very snappy during the meeting, only discussing the core problem and was well prepared when they arrived at the meeting, since no one was thrilled of a 4 hour stand up meeting :)

Experience with meetings - waste of f***en time ! (2, Interesting)

COredneck (598733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489870)

In my old job, the project was split between a Colorado Springs and Gaithersburg, MD location. The big shots were located on the East Coast in G-burg. There was one particular meeting that I had to attend every two weeks. I was Assistant Lab Manager. The meeting was a video conference hosted by G-burg. It was suppose to be a simple status meeting. A few years back when the meeting started, it was simple and short until the Sr. Mgt got involved. Today, the meetings last as long as 5 hours and one thing I notice, it is usually the same few people who just go on and on.

These "windbags" think they can impress the higher ups by spewing so mush B.S. My part takes about a minute and then I am out of there ! There are many times I sit listening to these windbags and I would like to say, "get to the point and be done !"

Also in that group, it seems like they liked to have late Friday afternoon meetings which I of course, ignored, unfortunately to my detriment.

Re:Experience with meetings - waste of f***en time (2, Interesting)

RedneckJack (934223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489950)

Also in that group, it seems like they liked to have late Friday afternoon meetings which I of course, ignored, unfortunately to my detriment.

I worked in a group - developing marketing software for MCI back in the mid-1990's. Our manager decided to order 4 pm meetings everyday especially on Friday. These meetings lasted until 6 or 7 every night. He of course did not show up, his staff people ran the meetings. After attending a few of those meetings, I came to the conclusion they were a waste of time. I quit going to them.

In another place I worked at, we have flex time and I took Friday afternoons off every week. I usually leave by 11 am. One time, an e-mail went out on Thursday afternoon and it mentioned that one of the corporate executives was going to visit. The meeting was scheduled for 3 pm on Friday. On top of that, we have casual Friday. We were told to "dress to impress". I blew off the meeting since I had other plans. The following week, I was called in to my manager's office and read the "riot act" for ignoring the meeting. He mentioned that we must show utmost respect to our executives and attending this meeting was important to this executive. Quite a few people were not at this meeting. It was a waste of time as mentioned by those who attended. It was basically the executive telling about all the good things he was doing for the rank and file workers.

known fact (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489874)

frankly, how many are mentally present in a meeting? everyone is aware of this health hazard and the physical presence is a mere obligation..

on second thoughts, could YOU be bad for the meeting? hmmn? maybe? in Soviet Russia?

Paaarp! Blowing my own trumpet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489876)

... but as a paid-up marketroid who goes to far too many meetings, I wrote a little guide: How to do meetings [] Hope it raises a smile (or grimace) - damn, got to go to a meeting now

They have a cost, but also a benefit if done right (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489880)

To play the devil's advocate, I think meetings are a cost to an organization, and with all things with a cost need to be considered carefully. However, I have found, from both sides of the fence, that small team meetings to go over what other folks are doing on the team to be helpful. I've been working in product development for some time and the 30-45 minutes spent almost always reveals something of use to other team members. Also, it makes the team stronger sitting together and talking once a week. You just can't get all the information on what is going on from an e-mail or an updated percentage on a line item. Also, knowing there is a looming meeting where you face your peers is motivational, despite what some may say (or you just don't care, in which case I would generally not be interested in just not having you around ;-)

One helpful trick I've used is to bring something sweet to meetings and place them on the table. Sugar cancels most negative feelings. Also, let the team BS for about 5 to 10 minutes in the beginning of the meeting. A bit of a "gathering atmosphere" is also helpful and further helps build team unity.

Like the URL says (2, Informative)

denison (735014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489885)

This is improbable research.

The article is poking fun at the study. The author of the article is the organiser of the Ignoble Prize competition.

tps (2, Funny)

mjohnsond (848603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489886)

What's happening? Ahhh, we have a sort of a problem here. Yeah, you apparently didn't put one of the new cover sheets on your T.P.S. report. It's just that we're putting new coversheets on all the TPS reports *before* they go out now. So if you could just remember to do that from now on, that'd be great.

there is only one thing worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489887)

there is only one thing worse than being included in meetings...

and that is not being included in meetings.

I enjoy meetings (5, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489888)

when I have meetings with my phd supervisors I usually enjoy them a lot. if you're discussing something with funny, intelligent experts who help you get things done it's not surprising it's enjoying.

so don't blame meetings. I expect most meetings are bad for you just because most *people* are stupid, boring, selfish, ignorant, incompetent and more likely to get in your way than not.

Re:I enjoy meetings (1)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489992)

Damn I wish I had mod points to give you for that comment. Insightful, to say the least.

Look at the source of the article (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489903)

From the bottom of the article:
"Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly magazine Annals of Improbable Research ( and organiser of the Ig Nobel Prize"
(emphasis added by me)

ie, to all the people complaining: this is supposed to be flaming obvious.


Meetings (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489906)

Most of the meetings I've had to attend could have been performed via IM and/or email exchange.

This whole face time thing is ridiculous. We've got technologies to handle that these days.

When I was a director of an I.T. I had two meetings I had to attend per month. One was a weekly meet with my unit for status updates, the other the weekly senior staff meeting. Then once a month I had the technical advisory meeting which I actually blew off a couple times because the office came first.

Otherwise everthing was handled via email or 1:1 in person or by phone. A meeting by definition is a committee and we all know the best way to doom and idea is to put it before a committee.

Re:Meetings (1)

bmalia (583394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489986)

When I was a director of an I.T. I had two meetings I had to attend per month. One was a weekly meet with my unit for status updates, the other the weekly senior staff meeting. Then once a month I had the technical advisory meeting which I actually blew off a couple times because the office came first.

Wow! You had one weekly meeting a month! That's amazing!

Well, this explains most legislatures worldwide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14489911)

And the UN, for that matter.

After all, their entire job is nothing but meetings.

Two examples (perhaps a little OT) (1)

ag4vr (705570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489935)

Two meetings in my career have stood out as examples of poorly put-together meetings:

  1. The weekly status meeting in the room with an automatic light switch, where the lights went out because there wasn't enough movement in the room.
  2. Another weekly status meeting (in another company) where my coworker got angry with our project leader, and threatened to continue the discussion outside in, say, a more physical manner.

We often hear about the 5 W's in school--perhaps those planning meetings could focus a little more on the Who and Why, as opposed to the What, Where, and When?

Oh, we were talking about corporate meetings. Never mind.

P.S. - instead of being fired, my coworker was moved to another project, working with newer technology and not having to deal wiith daily production issues. Talk about sending a message to the rest of the staff!

academic psychologists are bad for you (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489938)

Academics in psychology seem to have run out of meaningful topics to pursue, so are concentrating on trivia now. I get particularly annoyed at how they are converting outliers of human behavior into diseases these days- e.g. shyness, energetic kids, etc.

Meetings as a way to expedite the project (5, Interesting)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489946)

Years ago we had a major crisis on an engineering project. The phbs decided there would be an engineering group meeting of the entire engineering department (!) every day at 4 for 2 hours to review the work being done to resolve the issue and to plan the next stages.

At this meeting was a very old and experienced PhD who knew everything about the project. He regarded the meeting as an opportunity to display his knowledge at length, but had nothing of substance to put forward; after all, it was his design decisions that had caused the mess in the first place. Did I mention he was now a contractor and paid by the hour?

I know nothing about the branch of engineering concerned but I did go and ask the technicians what they thought. They knew the answer perfectly well - the material of a major tubular component was completely underspecified and was leaking gas when the plant got hot. But the PhD refused to accept it.

We didn't exactly draw straws for who would bring it up - but suffice it to say that I ended up with the short one. The result was an hour or so of listening to the worst metallurgical bullshit I have ever endured. But in the end we got our way, the components were replaced, the system started to work, the PhD was let go, (and a year later I was the engineering manager - it seems the MD had been reading the minutes).

Proof if proof were needed that the real reason for meetings is to drive the engineers to the point at which they will risk their jobs and their credibility to find a solution that means they don't have to go to any more meetings.

Technology and communications skills (4, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489952)

I've got a productive relationship with peers/partners/co-workers (and even some big-ticket customers) that, despite years of working together, I have never met in person. We make excellent use of (get this!) the telephone. I know, it's quaint.

But the most important thing is that we keep those calls short, and don't need to use them to convey basic information to each other because we do that all the time using e-mail, IM, and a rich portally-intranet-ish web presence.

But the only thing that really makes those supporting technologies a viable replacement for endless facetime is decent communications skills. Being able to cogently write what's on your mind, provide a usable spreadsheet or document that illuminates the matter at hand... even being able to use IM without it decaying into a meandering social tarpit.. those things require a little bit of practice and discipline. But they buy you productive, asynchronous communication that liberates you to work on your actual job on your own schedule.

In-person meetings are saved for when it really matters: gaining and keeping paying customers. Oh, and free food.

irony (1)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489958)

Rogelberg has delivered this insight in a talk called "Meetings and More Meetings," which he presented to a meeting at the University of Sheffield. He also does a talk called "Not Another Meeting!", which has been well received at two meetings in North Carolina.

Oh, the irony...

My approach: (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489982)

The instant the topics start to repeat themselves, I (loudly) move to adjourn.

Video game industry meetings... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489984)

When I worked at Atari, those of use who worked on Gameboy Advance titles could keep on working during a meeting as long as we could nod our heads and look interested at the right moments. Everyone else who didn't work on a Gameboy Advance title had to leave their joysticks outside and try not to look too bored.

Maybe it's just you (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14489985)

Everytime I go to a meeting I get paid to procrastinate. It's very relaxing.

Other things that are bad for you: (3, Funny)

pvera (250260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490002)

1. Changing paradygms.
2. Drinking the kool aid at a meeting where business developers are present.
3. Falling for the "everyone please send HR a fresh copy of your resume to update your files" ploy
4. Trying to calm down a frantic coworker that is freaking out for a very minuscule thing without at least some caffeine courage.
5. Drinking the last cup in the coffee urn. I can promise you this: it will taste like boiled crap.
6. Eating that last donut from the meeting 3 days ago. The Krisky Kreme box has not moved from the coffee pot table and that one donut looks tempting as hell, but trust me: you don't want it.
7. Come-to-Jesus meetings for a project that is not yours.
8. Any brainstorming meeting involving your newly hired business developer, especially since you don't have a formal "business development" function.
9. Trying to explain to a frantic coworker that is not crazy and it is not ignoring rules.
10. Trying to explain the same coworker that classifying mail as "ham" helps the filter learn what makes a good email and avoids false positives.

My personal experience (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490006)

I work in the IT field (obviously) but I work freelance. Basically, I choose who I work for, so I don't get stuck working under/alongside/above people that I don't personally like. I naturally veer away from meetings. Most meetings I've ever had were a waste of time and they were paying me a phenomenal amount of money to sit and talk, or sometimes even just sit. I don't doubt that meetings can be useful, quite often I've been keen to be involved in ones that affected me directly but been refused (yes, I've actually been politically blocked from attending a meeting with a supplier that would affect my work directly and drastically as I would be in charge of running and maintaining whatever they supplied!).

I've had three hour meetings where the only conclusion and main focus of the chat was what colour green to place on a website background (the website, incidentally, never got off the ground). And they paid me for that time. Now, I don't mind doing stuff that people are paying me for so long as it's something that I can do (I wouldn't say I could fix something if I couldn't), however I try to avoid all meetings now with those same people because it degenerates into a waste of five or more people's time, money and effort, distracts them from the real work and doesn't actually achieve anything we couldn't do with a poll on a webpage. I could make money from sitting in a room and gabbing nonsense but I consider it a real waste of my own time and talent.

One of the reasons that I won't work 9-5, mon-fri, for someone I don't like is that I can call things what they are if people ask. I've never sucked up to a boss in my life because I've never had one. I've had clients, whom I visit initially to determine their needs and then work for, but I avoid "meetings" at all costs.

Meetings are generally without any sort of focus, any conclusions, any change of opinions. They usually are either explaining things that people don't need to understand ("the network is broke, we're fixing it, it'll take a day and cost us X amount of money" is a perfectly good explanation for someone who's not technically minded), letting people spread responsibility for difficult decisions (or even just a comfort blanket for those same decision-makers) and attempts at micro-managing things that those people just don't understand.

If you have a group of colleagues who are all working on very intertwined things, they will form their own meeting either 1-1 or in small groups. They'll have to, and they'll do it a damn sight better than you organising a meeting for them all to check up with you. If you are managing people whose job you could not do yourself, stay out of their way. Maybe find them once a month or so, just to check that everything's working and that you're aware of any major problems. You hire people into a job to do that job, not to make them spend hours in a meeting explaining things they learned twenty years ago to you because you know nothing about that area.

I find that nonsensical meetings only come about through management. Managed-meetings are rarely productive. Having said that, there is a difference between a meeting and a chat. Chat to your staff, make sure they are okay, make sure things are on track, congratulate them on a job well done but bow to their expertise. If you invite someone to a meeting, it's because they absolutely HAVE to be there. If you are having a meeting with a IT vendor and you couldn't tell the difference between two products without the salesman's help, you need your IT guy there, to tell you and the vendor exactly what you want and don't want. But then, why are you there in the first place if you don't know what you're buying?

Meetings can be so useful in the right hands, but 99% of the really important decisions are made or can be made when those self-same people pass each other in the corridor, or pop into each other's office/cubicle/cupboard to chat. That way, there's also no problem with disturbing each other from important work (they won't chat if they are working, but they WOULD have to go to that meeting that was planned a year ago even though it's redundant now).

Meetings can be completely replaced, without ill effect, by any other decent communication system (whether it's Post-It's to tell John that we're no longer going to put a RAID in the server or an inter-office email flamewar over the benefits of dual-core processors). Personally, working in any sort of atmosphere where managed-meetings occurred on a regular basis, I just wouldn't attend. If I was questioned why, I'd tell them exactly what I was doing when the meeting was on and ask them how much they'd done in that same time.

"I completely recabled the network cabinet, deleted a thousand expired users, backed up to tape and upgraded the entire software platform. You had twenty people in a room to decide that maybe it was time we moved onto a new paradigm."

There's a quote in a Terry Pratchett novel (I can't remember which and the wording is probably way out):

If people aren't standing about shouting at each other, it's not important. If they've had time to write it down on paper, it's not important.

I'd have to add a corollary:

In the time it takes to have a meeting about something, you could all have done everything you needed to do to fix the situation and ensure it never happens ever again and still got some real work done.

FSM logic! (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490042)

Two psychologists have found evidence that the number of and the time spent in meetings has a detrimental effect on mood. "...a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found"

And the number of Prirates in the world is inversely related to the rate of global warming. Honestly, people who are in more meetings usually have to balance multiple projects for multiple people. Multiple projects means more work, and more stress, whether you are in meetings or not.


Meetings are not that bad... (1)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14490076)

I'd take meetings anytime over troubleshooting in a freezing data center!
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