Worst meetings ever — a practical guide!

How we might create the worst conditions for productive meetings? How might we have the worst meeting ever?

Preparation is half the battle

Logically, it follows that no preparation is also half the battle, and a great starting point for having the worst meeting possible. So do this:

  • Don’t prepare yourself for the meeting
  • Don’t give others a chance to prepare —this means: avoid sending out an agenda, presentation or relevant materials before the meeting
  • If you can’t avoid sending out something… either send out the wrong materials, or old / obsolete versions

Finding the perfect meeting room!

It’s a bit obvious that you’re trying to screw things up if you don’t book a room at all. Here are some other, more practical ideas:

  • Book a meeting room that’s too small to seat everybody
  • Book a room that’s HUGE (you may as well ruin it for someone else who needed the space, if possible!)
  • Double-book! It’s sure to be a hit when others show up
  • Change the meeting room at the last second

You may want to ensure that your meeting room meets some or all of the following requirements:

  • It should have no windows or natural light at all
  • No working aircon
  • It should be near a busy entrance with a door being constantly opened / closed
  • An added benefit would be a small but very annoying noise … like an overhead light buzzing, or a high-pitched “squeeeee”
  • An extra added benefit would be an odd smell, like somebody left an old ham in the waste basket.
  • If possible, the room should have no whiteboard, roll-up or projector / tv
  • You should of course also remove all paper and pens! (oh, and remove those handy guest WiFi information cards!)
  • There should not be enough chairs, so remove some — somebody should be left leaning against the wall or forced to look for a seat.
  • For bonus points: add clutter such as cardboard boxes, used plates, old coffee mugs and garbage.

Inviting people

  • When you press “send” on your Outlook invitation — don’t include which meeting room you’re going to be in
  • Obviously, as mentioned, don’t include an agenda in your invitation
  • Invite people at the last minute
  • Invite people who don’t need to be there (but make attendance required!)
  • Invite A SHEDLOAD of people. More is better!
  • Double-book people! They have another meeting? Doesn’t matter — invite them anyway! :)
  • Move the meeting. Then cancel it. Then re-invite people!


Time is a great way to mess with people. Everybody is busy and pressed for time, so you can seriously worsen the experience of a meeting through a few simple time-based tricks:

  • Make the meeting very long —like 3 hours! Or all-day!
  • Let it draaag out … set the meeting for an hour, but just keep it going forever, and ever, and ever… with no end in sight!
  • Schedule the meeting at a time where people usually do personal things — like in the morning when people normally drop off their kids
  • Schedule the meeting at meal times such as breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • You might even schedule it at night, requiring people to get out of bed (“hey, we don’t want to let down those overseas clients, come on, make an effort!”)
  • Show up late for your own meeting (obviously!)

Avoid steering the meeting

  • Do not have a moderator for the meeting — It’s fine, just let the strongest people in the room control where it goes
  • After a little while, you (the guy who invited everybody) just up and leave.
  • Avoid stating what the purpose of the meeting is
  • Let the topic under discussion change at random. If nobody changes it — okay, do a little bit of steering, and change the topic yourself!
  • Have more than one meeting at the same time — people are gathered here together, it’s the perfect time to discuss the road map for next year, the implementation of a feature AND the christmas party!

Document NOTHING

To ensure that your next meeting is even worse, you might want to follow some of these suggestions:

  • Don’t document anything about the meeting — decisions, questions, status
  • Create no to-dos / action items
  • Don’t follow up from the last meeting (should be easy, since you didn’t document anything!) :-)

Have an attitude problem

There’s a few different ways to ruin a meeting by being in a particular state of mind. You might try to…

  • Be abusive — interrupt others, shout at them, scowl, pull rank, call people names, don’t listen to anything anybody says, and just constantly push your own agenda!
  • Be indifferent — ignore everyone else, sit with arms crossed, use your computer all the time, work on private stuff, and you might also listen to music or watch YouTube!
  • Be super-over-the-top hyped! Talk all the time, agree with everything people say, and have a can-do attitude about absolutely everything, no matter how absurd.

For a bit of extra fun

You might spice things up by…

  • Putting a thumbtack on a chair (oh man, that never gets old!)
  • Bring a shaver and buzz somebody’s head
  • Drop the next person’s phone in the coffee
  • Tip over your glass of water into somebody’s laptop / groin / shoes
  • Mute the speaker on your video conference (teeehee!)
  • Put tape over the lens of the video conference camera

Thanks for reading

This has simply been a bit of fun with negative brainstorming .. it’s interesting how easy it can be to generate what NOT to do — and then of course you can spend some time reversing those things to find more benign patterns :)

UX Designer, illustrator & terrible musician. If you like my writing, you can show your support here: https://flattr.com/@skjoldbroder