20 Annoying Behaviors During Meetings

Meetings are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, great ideas and solutions abound when you bring people into a room, face to face.  People learn from one another and also get to know their colleagues better.  Ideas, concepts, hot-button issues can get lost in translation via email, phone or memo.  A great communicator who knows how to facilitate the discussion and keep the conversation flowing and productive can make or break a meeting.  Yet even with a leader who comes prepared, a meeting is only as good as the people in the room.  When meeting attendees misbehave, everyone and everything suffers: you are annoyed and feel your time is being wasted and the thing you came to discuss get short shrift.  We are all guilty of imperfect etiquette during a meeting, and in that vein I present to you 20 annoying or improper human behaviors during business meetings. I asked friends, colleagues and communications consultants to contribute their meeting pet peeves. Please add your ideas to this list:

  1. Talking over one another
  2. Interrupting a colleague, apologizing, then continuing to speak
  3. Checking email
  4. Answering email
  5. Whispering to a colleague
  6. Laughing at or chastising a colleague’s comment
  7. Arriving late
  8. Arriving really late
  9. Banging a pen, water bottle or other objects against the table
  10. Napping
  11. Not putting your phone on vibrate
  12. Doing other seemingly more important work on your laptop
  13. Shopping on your laptop
  14. Setting up your Powerpoint presentation in real-time (not beforehand) and troubleshooting while others watch
  15. Not participating
  16. Asking off-topic questions
  17. As the meeting organizer, not having an agenda with clear objectives, and starting late, ending late
  18. Taking copious notes rather than listening and jotting down key takeaways
  19. Texting
  20. Sexting (it must happen somewhere) – plus, it’s sometimes good to end a meeting or blog post on a light note.

What would you add?

– Diane Schwartz





  • margaux

    Significant blog. Thanks for pointing that out!