Boring Meetings Suck

Jon Petz doesn't like boring meetings. He even wrote a book on the subject. Today he is here in our studio to inspire you to have more entertaining meetings. Hopefully he doesn't bore you.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Jon Petz doesn't like boring meetings. He even wrote a book on the subject. Today he is here in our studio to inspire you to have more entertaining meetings. Hopefully he doesn’t bore you.


Hi Jon! Welcome in our studio!


Hi there. Good to be here mate. Thanks.


You wrote a book 'Boring Meetings Suck!' Why is that?


I think, because we all relate to it. We instantly understand just by the very nature of the title of all the boring, ineffective meetings that suck the time, the energy, the creativity and even the profit out of our organizations and something had to be done.


So but, what do you do then to make it more entertaining and not boring or...


Oh I think, the results driven meetings are what we are all after, I mean meetings aren’t the problem. I mean we all are going to meetings and we collaborate, we inspire ideas but the problem is that once they get no results, have no energy and really comes down to engagement level. How do we get people to get engage out of the gate, how can we get people to participate and we willing to participate when they come in the door and some of that are easier said than done but I certainly give you some good ideas and strategies to how to make that happen.


Well, I’m very curious. How do you do that?


Perfect leading question, wasn’t it?




Those variables, I mean obviously those meetings and small scales in-office and there are the large professionally driven meetings but there’s always different ways and examples depending on your meeting environment.


But maybe, let’s start with small ones.


OK. Take your everyday office meeting, you know. Throughout the book I call them SRDs, so there are nuggets of information, things you can use quickly to use effectively and efficiently. SRDs are Suckyfication Reduction Devices.


Well, I wrote that one down on my card over here.


So a very useful quick SRD for some simple meeting engagement. Often times people are resenting the agenda. Here’s what we are going to do, here’s the agenda I want to see it as a SRD, an outcome statement from a meeting. I want to know, here’s what we are coming to do but I also want to know a one sentence after this meeting, what we will have accomplished?


Can you give me an example of that?


Absolutely. Like for this interview, the mission is we are going to share some ideas about event planning and talk about “Boring Meetings Suck”. The outcome, I want your viewers, your listeners to walk away from this with two ideas that they can use today when they are planning the next meeting.


Well, share the two ideas. Then we have that...


Absolutely, I got plenty of them for sure. Like this missing and outcome, that will be SRD number one. If you are using, I don’t know what, if it’s a Lotus from IBM or Microsoft Outlook or whatever email package in your meeting invitation, every meeting invitation should have the mission, why we are having the meeting but the second sentence is when we walk out the door, what we will have accomplished? And we provide value in two ways. It makes the facilitator to actually think about the meeting and means the recipients, if I to look at that outcome statement and I don’t see where I’m going to add value, then decline it. Politely say, you know I’m happy with the decisions you make and my team is ready to implement that but help you get out of more meetings rather than sit through some meeting that you really don’t belong in the beginning.


Yeah, the biggest problem that I noticed in lot of companies is that you have a meeting and then you have another meeting about the first meeting because it didn’t take the decisions, and so... and so on...


Well, those are do-over meetings. We have them all the time. All the time!


Well now we’ve been talking about the small meetings and there it’s if you were smart with them then everybody can understand but it doesn’t it get any more difficult if you start looking at big events?


Kevin, big events are in different scales because there are lot of different people from lot of different organizations and expertise levels and I think the number one thing is about engagement. How can we engage these people even before they come to that conference or event? And lot of meeting planners and events do a very good job. You want to engage in social media stand point. You want your speakers and presenters may be doing video clips ahead of time to get people emotionally hook so that they somewhat know what to expect and have an idea where they want to go ahead of time. And if we look at Galapoles still is 19% people are actively, actively disengage in meetings or events or in their work.


That’s an impressive number yeah?


It’s scary as what it is. And the other element of this is, and this isn’t me. This is neuron science. It’s been proved that people retain and recall information. Two of the top three ways relate to emotion and novelty. How can these people have fun in their learning and how can these people have an emotion tied in the learning rather than talking heads with PowerPoint slides day after day after day.


But how do you implement that idea in the real-time conference?


In a real time conference it’s difficult because sometimes you can control your speakers. Obviously on a professional speaker note there’s benefits because they have proven most of the time what they do and they have expertise and I work with many, you know, in terms of coaching speakers or presenters. Maybe I don’t have a professional circuit which is fine because most people aren’t. But meeting people where they are confortable and taking, if they do use that presentation media, use some of the words, use videos, use photos, and use these images that capture and emotion while you presented the information, instead of everyone reading you know from a presentation.


Yeah, the slides with only bullets and…


Well, yeah we see it every day and everyone still does it and it looks like where does that going to ever go away?


But what about then the video conferencing like we are doing right now? Does it also bring some new insights in how to handle and make those meetings efficient?


It can and it’s interesting that I get asked this question often. And I think that webinars and online meetings are if you have a bad meeting in person, your online meeting is going to be awful! It’s exponentially worse. And in large meetings and events, I think it’s me. Because I’ve Skyped in meetings such as this and you can have 15-20 minutes saving with an industry expert but you got to really facilitate it really very very well. The moment you have the downtime, the moment that you have that small talk, small talk doesn’t really work that well with webinar and online meetings. So you got to have a great facilitated and targeted approach to that.


So to conclude with Jon, if you could give our viewers one last tip, what should that be?


One last tip? One of my new favorite SRDs is getting lot of attention that people love, I call it Phone Stack. And it gives the SRD with Suckification Reduction Device. But the Phone Stack is that a challenge in a small meeting environment in which you know, everyone wonders why are people emailing, why are people texting, we can’t tell people to put their phones away. It’s not going to happen. So the Phone Stack works like this. Stay in 5 minutes or 10 minutes of focus time no phones. Any more than that meeting can call Phone Stack and you got to take all your mobile devices and all your phones and you literally stack them in the center of the table. And they stay there until you finish that idea you want to discuss or until that stack of phones falls over because of all the vibrations, texts, emails and everything coming in. And finish the item and that’s great. If the person pull it out before the phone stack is finished then that person is buying drinks that night or breakfast the next morning for the rest of the team. That’s that!


That’s a great idea. Jon I would really like to thank you for calling in today.


Hey it was a privilege and a thrill. So nice to meet you and all of your viewers!


And you at home, thank you for watching our show, I hope to see you next time.