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190. Boring Meetings Suck

By Patrick Lencioni - August 2023

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190. Boring Meetings Suck

At the Table with Patrick Lencioni

Episode Summary

Boring meetings suck. This week, Pat, Cody, Tracy, and Beau discuss raising the stakes and ways to improve our meetings.

Transforming Meetings from Mundane to Magnificent

The Plague of Boring Meetings

Meetings are a staple in the business world, yet they often fail to inspire or engage participants. This not only wastes valuable time but also impacts organizational effectiveness. Pat, Cody, Tracy, and Karen focused the time on dissecting the factors that contribute to this widespread issue and shared strategies to breathe life into these essential gatherings.

Setting the Stage for Success

Meetings should be more than passive events; they should be interactive and collaborative, akin to co-directing a film. As a leader, it’s crucial to involve participants in the process, asking them what would pique their interest and what information they’re eager to uncover. This approach transforms attendees from passive listeners to active contributors.

Cody pointed out that many leaders struggle with making meetings interesting. Pat’s advice to those leaders is to be vulnerable and admit when you need help. Encourage your team to contribute ideas that would make the meeting more compelling for them.

Tools for Engagement

Karen introduced a novel concept: the forced ridiculous answer. This technique injects a dose of conflict and humor into the conversation, prompting participants to invest in the discussion and share their perspectives more freely.

Pat likened this to pausing a movie to ask the audience what a character should do next. It’s a way to tease out the underlying reasons behind people’s thoughts and foster a deeper level of engagement.

The Foundation of Trust

Tracy emphasized the importance of trust within a team. Without it, people are reluctant to participate fully. As a leader, it’s your role to act as a conductor, drawing out each individual’s contributions and orchestrating an authentic conversation. If trust is lacking, the meeting’s potential for success plummets.

Overcoming Virtual Meeting Challenges

The shift to virtual meetings has introduced new hurdles, such as the absence of body language when cameras are off. Cody and Tracy both agreed that this is a significant loss, as non-verbal cues are a rich source of communication. It’s like trying to enjoy a movie while distracted by a podcast; the full experience is just not there.

Characters Matter

Karen pointed out that meetings benefit from interesting characters. Allowing people to express their true selves can make meetings more dynamic and prevent them from becoming monotonous. When trust is present, individuals feel safe to reveal their personalities, which adds color and depth to the conversation.

A Call to Action for Leaders and Teams

The team is excited about an upcoming event focused on how to conduct better, more effective meetings. It’s not just about creating drama; it’s about integrating each person’s unique talents into the meeting structure. Leaders, employees, and consultants alike can benefit from learning these strategies.

No Excuses for Boredom

Pat firmly believes there’s never an excuse for a meeting to be boring. If you’ve exhausted all options and the meeting still lacks interest, it’s likely a sign that the meeting isn’t necessary. Pat and the team’s commitment to the listener is that they will practice what they preach; their discussions will be anything but boring.

The Great Oxford Comma Debate

In a lighter moment, Tracy, our self-proclaimed nerd, brought up the Oxford comma, sparking a humorous debate and showcasing the kind of lively banter that can make meetings enjoyable. They even invited the listeners to weigh in on the topic, demonstrating that conflict, when managed well, can be a powerful tool for engagement.


Meetings don’t have to be the bane of your professional life. With the right mindset, tools, and a foundation of trust, you can turn even the most mundane meetings into opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Join us At the Table as we continue to explore the world of work and strive to make every meeting matter.


For more information on meetings:

Death by Meeting