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The boring meeting has become a common evil of office life. Even with designated facilitators, meetings can still go terribly wrong and when we are not the meeting leader it can be hard to know what to do. However even in the most difficult situations we can still show leadership and make a little contribution. What are some empowering alternatives to just sitting there and feeling like a victim? It is possible to ask 5 questions that turn around the boring meeting and help you improving the work of teams … that have fallen asleep.

The key is about asking innocent, real, authentic questions so that the meeting participants can take the action that is needed.

What questions turn around a boring meeting?

  • What is the purpose of this meeting? This is the key question that can often save you hours of meeting aggravation. Asked right at the begining it gives you a chance to quickly understand if you are supposed to be in the meeting and if you can contribute. If you feel strongly that the purpose is unclear or that is not one you can really help achieve, do mention to the meeting organizers that you do not need to be in the meeting.
  • What are we going to do with the decisions, ideas, recommendations from this meeting? Oftentimes meetings have no real follow up. It is important to assess the impact of the meeting you are in by asking this question in order to define right away if it is worth your time.
  • Do we have an agenda/a recorder for this meeting? A meeting without an agenda or a recorder is normally not worth attending. Ask this question and request the meeting organizer to briefly define time limits, items of discussion and possibly name a recorder.
  • Do we have a timekeeper for this meeting? Time is the scarcest resource in today’s busy workplace. By asking this question you voice your concern with ending on time and following the agenda. Do consider volunteering as timekeeper if there is no one doing it as a sign of your committment to a good meeting output.
  • How can we make sure everyone participates in this meeting? If someone dominates the conversation, this question can really make a difference as it challenges the group to come up with a way to equalize “air time”.

Try them and let me know what happens!