5 Meeting Killers To Avoid – Killer # 3 – Over and Under Participation

This blog post is the third in a five part series that covers the top 5 meeting killers that are the root causes of most ineffective meetings that we all are forced to suffer through. By combating these 5 meeting killers you can realize tremendous improvements in your meeting effectiveness and reduce the amount of time that you and your coworkers spend in meetings.

Have you ever been in a meeting and looked around the room and wondered why in the world are all these people in this meeting? Have you ever taken it a step further and estimated the cost of the meeting based on the time multiplied by an average salary for each person in the room.

A close-up of a crowd of adult and young King Penguins - South Georgia.

Too many meeting participants bog down the meeting process and negatively impact morale and productivity. Part of the problem with over attendance is that the “over attendees” often feel the need to say something to justify their presence, which simply chews up precious time and hinders the productivity of the meeting.
In the most positive light, over attendance occurs when people have a legitimate need to hear the information that is being discussed in the meeting. Perhaps they don’t need to contribute to the meeting objectives and agenda, but they do need to know the outcomes. In fairness to these people, they might be just trying to get the information they need to perform their jobs, as inefficient and disruptive as that might be.

Other examples of over attendance come from micromanaging bosses who want to be “in the know,” freeloading attendees who simply want to look busy and appear important and others who just seem to indiscriminately show up at any meeting that someone invites them to attend. Don’t we all have examples for situations such as these?

On the flip side, under participation can also kill your meeting effectiveness if essential attendees do not show up for your key meetings. The obvious problem here is that you end up losing the knowledge, experience or decision-making authority that you expected this attendee to contribute during the meeting. A second problem is the risk that these absent stakeholders shun ownership of the decisions and other content generated during the meeting—a problem akin to the accountability discussion in Meeting Killer #2.

During a recent sales meeting with a government contractor, we got an earful from the contractor’s team when we started speaking about the Powerfully Simple Meetings (PSM) approach to counteracting participation problems. They were lamenting the fact that their clients rarely showed up to key project meetings. Apparently the clients prefer to send consultants to attend in their place. These same clients would then throw up roadblocks when it came time to make important project decisions. They objected because “they were never included in the process.” The result was significant project delays and cost overruns—all because stakeholder participation wasn’t effectively managed throughout the project. For the record, this problem is not limited to the public sector, as most of us in the private sector know all too well. By leveraging our PSM system, you’ll learn strategies for optimizing meeting attendance and mitigating the corresponding risks.

How is attendance at your meetings?  Leave us a comment below.

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