Get more out of your meetings, or get out of your meetings
By Jon Petz
3 ½ out of 4 stars
$22.95, available at most local bookstores
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2011
Reviewed by Chris Wendel
Before I picked up the recently published book Boring Meetings Suck, there was still part of me that was still resigned to the fact that meetings were to be tolerated, regardless of their structure or end result. It’s fair to say that the book Boring Meetings Suck, by author Jon Petz, draws a distinct line in the sand for the reframing one’s expectations of torturous business meetings.
As you can gather from its title, Boring Meetings Suck is edgy with its content, pushing the well established, yet seldom challenged traditions of business meetings. When referring to meetings, Petz is talking about anything from an everyday office meeting, to a seminar, to a larger conference event.
Petz attacks common assumptions about the meeting game with a no-nonsense approach, along with easy to adapt techniques. In fact, a lot of the book’s early discussion goes into who should attend the meeting itself and the roles of each attendee. There is a reason to have a meeting and that meeting should hold value for anyone invited to it.
Starting with its own Agenda Item 1: Boring Meetings Suck…so Why Do We Have ‘EM?: Petz attacks old assumptions with a hefty dose of common sense. Working with the premise of insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results, Petz questions every part of the meeting process that is illogical and impractical.
Petz’s techniques classified as SRD’s (Suckification Reduction Devices) run the gambit of correcting common blunders in the areas of preparation, meeting length, presentation, and technology. By the way, Petz is unforgiving in his conviction that online meetings, conference calls, and Friday meetings “really suck”.
Perhaps these SRD’s are best demonstrated with his scathing review of Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation software that has been the staple of presentations for the past 10-15 years. Petz’s summary and prescribed suggestions for using the program (if at all) are invaluable for “…meeting attendees just as much as meeting facilitators!”
Another invaluable tool is a series of reoccurring “Get out!” suggestions that appear throughout the book. These are cut- the-to-the-bone techniques for leaving or excusing oneself from a meeting when events go unfairly off track. For example if a meeting appears to being heading on a tangent different to its original planned agenda. You can either:
- Address the meeting facilitator, boss, or person who had the initial objectives and ask if you should begin working on those objectives separately from the group, or simply ask, “Will we reschedule?” Give that person an either/or question; you know that staying in that cage is not an option.
Boring Meetings Suck is comprehensive with its scope and serves as a solid easy to read reference guide. Think of any awkward meeting situation and this book has it covered, from organizing a meeting, to public speaking, to rethinking the way you own organization treats (and in too many cases wastes time with) meetings. If there was ever a book that was more relevant to today’s work meeting environment, this is it. Once you’ve read Boring Meetings Suck, you may need additional copies to leave on the desk of someone else who is known office wide for running poor meetings.
There is one disclaimer for older readers of Boring Meetings Suck. Many of the baby boomer generation and older remember (in their earlier years) when the word “suck” was an obscene slang word. Over the years, society and over use muted its meaning. It is worth noting the over preponderance of the ways that the author Jon Petz uses “suck”, which may be bothersome and inappropriate to those ages 50 and over.
Chris Wendel is the Regional Director for Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) in Traverse City. The MI-SBTDC assists businesses with one-on-one business consulting, market research information, and entrepreneurial training. The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments is the host organization for the MI-SBTDC in the Grand Traverse region.