developUs Blog

August 28, 2017 in Blog

Mangled Meetings

There are countless ways that we unknowingly lessen our impact, here are a few meeting manglers.

  • Launching a presentation by, passing out a copy of the slides “for reference.”
  • Paralyzing the audience with overbuilt PPT slides that contain way too much information.
  • Delivery of the slide deck to people who were not in attendance.

YOU are your presentation; your slides are NOT.


We deflate our teams by cramming too many people into a small conference room to deliver slides that apply to too few people and add little if any, value. I know it well because I have attended more than my fair share and remain shocked by the number of hours we are dumping into wasteland meetings.

The Sad Statistic

Executives consider 67% of meetings to be a FAILURE, and managers spend 35-50% of their time in meetings. There is a better way; it’s time to make meetings matter!

First, Decide

What type of “meeting” are you having? There are many to choose from – the idea is to choose just ONE.

  • Staff meeting
  • Training session
  • Working session
  • Keynote presentation

Second, Find Your Why

What’s the point of the meeting? Why are you putting people in the same room and taking them away from their day-to-day work to be there? What is the value of this “gathering?” Once you have that decided, and ONLY after you have that decided, can you figure out what your materials need to be, and hint, they may not need to be slides.

Slide Support

Your slides should support your mission, NOT be your presentation. If your slides can replace you, and have everything you want to say on them, please, on behalf of every attendee, cancel the meeting, and email them the slide deck. They don’t need you. They need your slides. Cut them loose. Let people go back to work. I attended one specific meeting every week for 14 months that had nearly 40 people in the room and lasted two hours. NOT ONCE did I ever get any value from the meeting. I could have read the slide deck in 10 minutes at my desk and known what was going on. 2 hours a week, for 14 months. That’s 120 hours multiplied by 40 people! A staggering 4,800 hours wasted. That’s more than TWO YEARS of productivity lost in that room in 14 months. And that doesn’t include the lost hours preparing the slide deck for every Monday.

Making a Meeting That Matters

In general, here are few guidelines depending on the meeting that you are having:

  1. Staff meetings. Unless work is getting done and decisions are necessary, you can probably cancel them. They don’t need a slide deck at all. Usually, they need objectives, an agenda and the right people in the room. Check out Patrick Lencioni’s Death by Meeting for a quick read on how to save your meetings from doing more harm than good. Then, schedule a meeting to blow up your slide deck in a ceremonial celebration of cerebral freedom. Trust me; it’s the one meeting everyone will enthusiastically attend.
  2. Training sessions. If your goal is to train people, which we define as developing the ability to DO something different, then know this: People learn by doing, not by reading slides. Your slides, should support the learning activities, not list out every detail you want them to learn. Repeat after me, people learn by DOING not by reading slides. There may be places where slides help participants visualize something they couldn’t visualize before, or serve as an anchor for activity instructions, but please note: people learn by doing not by reading slides (the third time’s a charm).
  3. A Working Session. People typically don’t use slides to get their work done. Enough said.
  4. Keynotes/Speeches. Slides should add imagery to your topic if you use them at all. More than ever, YOU are your presentation, your slides are not.

Ditch the Deck

Regardless of the reason for getting people together in the same room, your slides should support you, not hinder you. How often do you see presenters trip over their slides, forget what’s next, get ahead of themselves, screw up the use of animation, skip slides, or sin of all sin- READ from the slides? Too often slides make people WORSE presenters, not BETTER presenters.

Resources & Next Steps

Unify the best attributes of your leadership style with the science of audience engagement in our transformational 2-day course.

This experience is crafted to develop:

  1. First-time leaders
  2. Professionals who deliver group presentations & lead meetings
  3. Participants in Leadership Development Programs

For more information, visit:

Looking for some slide feedback? Send them to us – one of our instructional design experts will be happy to connect with you. Just email:

Free Meeting Planning Worksheet

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