SURVEY SAYS: Annoying Things About Work Meetings

We covered a survey that revealed what bugs employees and managers about work meetings.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “What, if anything, bugs you about work meetings?


First to note, not one respondent said nothing bugs them about work meetings. The top annoyance about work meetings among suggestions listed, selected by 54.9% of responding readers, is they start or end late. This was followed by “attendees distracted (using phone, checking email, doodling, etc.)” (50.7%) and “unnecessary (e.g. could have been handled over email) (45.1%). A significant number of readers listed “other” annoyances (39.4%), while 33.8% say attendees being unprepared bugs them, 25.3% indicated that not sticking to an agenda when one is provided bothers them, 22.5% selected “attendees interrupt each other,” and 21.1% chose “too much or not enough time allotted.”


“Other” responses included:

  • Too many unnecessary attendees
  • Rarely knowing the outcome of decisions or status updates.
  • We spend so much time in meetings that the only time available to do non-meeting work is before or after hours.
  • Too much time on personal items that don’t include entire group
  • Poor time management. Spending too much time on early agenda items so later agenda items do not receive enough attention or have to be deferred to a later meeting.
  • Attending meetings that I don’t need to be involved in and not being invited to meetings I should be involved in.
  • Being excluded from meetings but then having it assumed that you’re familiar with the meeting’s content, and delegated items covered by the meeting. Also, attending meetings virtually, where those on site forget that others off site need them to speak up and not have side conversations.
  • People don’t know when to stop talking.
  • Not checking availability before scheduling meetings. It is so easy to find out if the people that must attend are available at that time.
  • People trying to outdo each other, the people that can’t quit talking and get off topic.
  • An agenda is not provided ahead of time.
  • There should be one leader/facilitator and he/she should manage the agenda, clock, etc. This is often where it fails.
  • Way too many meetings. At first our employer had employee meetings EACH week, now it is down to twice a month. I think monthly is enough!
  • Spending at least the first 10 minutes catching up on everyone’s personal life
  • The fact that we don’t have them.
  • Audio/visual issues
  • No clear purpose for the meeting – inviting people to the meeting that do not have a reason for attending.
  • The meeting plan calls for each member to relate something good in their personal life that happened that week and then something good that happened for the company. My personal life is not anyone at work’s business and it bothers me to no end that I am required to relate my personal life to co-workers.
  • Nothing is worse than a boring topic, makes you drowsy and guess what? You have trouble keeping your eyes open so you have to force yourself not to nod off!!!
  • “Grandstanding” – attendees using meeting time as a look-at-me opportunity
  • People not muting their phones or laptops during the meeting
  • When attendees say the same-ol’, same-ol’ every meeting and bring nothing new/challenging to the table
  • We have an employee that takes great pleasure in undermining our manager and controlling the meeting. Most of us find it unprofessional and rude.


Most readers who provided verbatim comments about work meetings complained they were too long, unproductive and happen too often. Some readers shared tips for more effective meetings. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Sometimes I get lost in meetings wondering how they got the conference table through the door.”


Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!



By scheduling meetings to end at 25 or 55 after the hour gives a couple of minutes between meetings to give a time buffer

Sometimes I get lost in meetings wondering how they got the conference table through the door.

Most meetings are way too long and try to cover too many topics. I’m reminded of the saying, “Junk expands to fill the closet.” Meetings expand to fill the hour.

We punish those who show up on time by making them wait and then repeating what was said when the last person shows up.

Got to love it when a meeting ends with creating yet another committee!

Keep them short and to the point

I’m OK with most meetings, but sometimes they are longer than they need to be.

We have a regular team meeting scheduled every two weeks. Sometimes, we don’t have very much to discuss but we have the meeting anyway. Organizers should not be afraid to cancel recurring meetings occasionally. Attendees will not complain when they get unexpected time to work on other projects.

Most are unnecessary. Some people just like to have meetings for the sake of having meetings.

I really don’t care for meetings to begin with, but especially so when the meeting is de-railed. I find myself trying to get us back on track to the topic at hand. However, sometimes I just don’t fight it and let it go …which leads to a very frustrating meeting for me!

It’s hard to get them “just right.” Too many meetings will prevent actual work from being accomplished. Not enough meetings result in projects stalling, and a lack of cohesion among team members who work either virtually or in a scattered, open workspace environment.

We have more virtual meetings than face-to-face, and a lot of these issues aren’t as apparent or significant with virtual meetings.

They’re too often counterproductive for many of the reasons listed above.

Too many of them!

There are too many of them and yet we still have issues with sharing up to date information!

They NEVER start on time! It seems like being able to tell time (which isn’t hard with digital clocks) should become a mandatory training course during new employee orientation with annual refreshers (which is training required for compliance at our firm).

I once told my manager that we were having too many meetings and I couldn’t take care of all of my work. She scheduled a meeting to discuss it.

Short, sweet and to the point is how they should be.

Fortunately, most of the meetings we have are necessary and useful for swapping ideas. The agenda is always used, and the time frame is respected.

I know everyone hates them — but meetings/confernce calls are often needed. Reduces hundreds of vague/useless emails.

We just need to be more respectful of others time. Let’s hold the personal conversation until the end. Each person can then decide if they want to stay and engage in the social part of the meeting. I understand the value of connecting with others on a personal basis, but some days I just don’t have the time.

Work meetings can be useful. I wish we had them.

Cell phone distractions are the worst along with people being habitually late to the meetings.

When someone arrives late and expects a re-cap of things they may have missed.

Our boss gets distracted super easily, so it’s always a long team meeting due to his tangents and not paying attention. Sometimes, it feels more like trying to get a toddler to sit for a picture than an actual meeting!

If you allocate an hour for a meeting and the agenda is completed in 35 minutes employees should not be required to sit there and b.s. just to complete the allocated hour before returning to their duties.

Most meetings are unnecessary, and I haven’t been to a meeting that starts on time in years. The best place I ever worked for meeting was a high tech company. They locked the door at the time the meeting was to start. Because that’s when the meeting starts……..not when you are supposed to get there. Worked quite well

They are fine as long as attendees let you finish what you are saying and don’t interrupt you with unnecessary questions because if they close their one mouth and listen with their two ears to everything you have to say, their questions would be answered.

Pretty much all of the listed responses are irritating. But the worst is the manager who shows up 10 minutes late, showing a lack of respect for everyone else in the room. And then the first 10 minutes have to be repeated for the manager who was late!

Most of them have nothing to do with my job and are very boring. I’ve almost dozed off more than once.

Staff members TEXTING or checking FACEBOOK during a meeting. You can OBVIOUSLY see what they are doing. Mostly….”Millenials” who don’t have any work ethic anyway!!!

It drives me nuts when “everyone” is invited to a meeting, when only a few folks needed to be there. It is very unproductive – which leads people to multitask instead of pay attention – which is disruptive, rude and because they weren’t paying attention, when asked their opinion on something just said, they say “sorry, I was on mute, can you repeat your question…” which then extends the meeting time and we all know they weren’t paying attention, because (gasp) we all do it.

Most organizations need training on how to run effective meetings. Providing an agenda for a planned meeting at least 5 business days in advance is a best practice that should be implemented. It avoids many issues in the meeting. When all that is provided is a meeting title in a calendar invitation, the meeting planner should anticipate that the time in the meeting will be unproductive.

I attend a monthly meeting where the chair ran a great meeting. The meeting was focused, covered a lot of ground, stayed on topic, started and ended on time, productive, informative, no more than an hour in length…..unfortunately this is a rarity.

The unending need to talk about getting work done, while work is piling up because you are stuck in a meeting!

Definitely too many meetings and too many people in said meetings which is why nothing gets done and decisions can’t get made.

Bring updates and new items to the table with joy and enthusiasm….the enthusiasm passes on to others.

I do not believe that any meeting should go on for more than 1 hour. If necessary, schedule a new meeting to cover what was not discussed. Otherwise, you tend to lose people’s attention and the meeting winds up being unproductive. Ideally meetings take 30 minutes or less.

Those that walk in completely unprepared as if their presence is the only reason to hold a meeting.

Any meeting that runs more than one hour loses its value. You end up losing your audience.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.