Top 5 Worst Things To Say In A Meeting

Ever been to a meeting and someone just says something ridiculous. That makes you cringe.

Here’s my list of Top 5 worst things to say at a meeting

  1. Anybody got any chew? I’d love to take a dip right now…Smokeless tobacco at a meeting…not cool
  2. Just one more thing – You know when the meeting is already over. You’ve run out of town. And that one person says “just one more thing” and talks for another hour….That’s annoying
  3. Let’s table that for the next meeting – You know when you are getting close to actually making a decision. And then someone says – let’s table that for the next meeting. I hate that – we need another meeting? Let’s waste more time
  4. Susie – are you taking notes? I’ve seen this before where a senior male assumes the woman in the room is a secretary or note taker. And they aren’t – so when asked, it gets really awkward.

So what’s the worst thing you’ve heard someone say in a meeting?


Check out some of my other “Top 5’s”

Top 5: Best Places to Have a Government Job

Top 5: Worst Places to Have a Government Job

Top 5: Reasons You Didn’t Get the Promotion

Top 10: What Works in Social Media

Top 5: Ways to Handle a Boring Meeting

Top 5 Signs You Need a New Job

Top 5: Ways to Look Important at the Office

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Trevor Reaske

Couldn’t agree with number 3 more. Obviously, there are a few situations where that phrase is ok. For example, if someone starts discussing something that is completely off topic. For the most part, my feeling is, let’s get something done now. Why wait?

John Bordeaux

– “I’d like to build on what Bill just said.” Really? We heard Bill. We were here. Has it just been too long since you heard yourself talk? Or are you hoping we associate you with an actual Good Idea?

– “Will there be a ‘parking lot’ set up?” Yes, please put a giant piece of paper up so we can catch your tangential ramblings for non-posterity. There’s a reason we never have a “let’s clean up the parking lot” meeting.

– “I think I’ll start banning Blackberries during these (90-minute) weekly staff meetings.” Yes, some of us are running operations through the occasional email, but let’s strand entire teams while you dam up the decision cycles. Hey, we need to pay close attention to Bob’s weekly whine-fest. As my deputy at the time said in response: “When he needs my whole brain during a staff meeting, he’ll get it.”

Ok, I feel better now. Thanks.

Stephen Peteritas

Man, I remember back when I was in Journalism school I did a story about a study that said meetings actually hurt productivity and I still completely agree with that! But as far as the worst or weirdest thing I’ve ever said in a meeting: once I pitched an idea that the main anchor at the station should grow a mustache to bring in viewers. Sadly they didn’t bite.

Ed Albetski

“I wasn’t here for the last meeting. Can we re-cap?”

NO! If you can’t read the minutes of the last meeting have one of your staff read them to you…

As we enter “vacation season” I hear this a lot. Why do we have to waste the whole class’s time for someone who didn’t do their homework?

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

“Let me just briefly say . . .” The most famous example is from Hamlet when Polonious starts off with “brevity is the soul of wit” and then talks for another ten minutes.

Jaime Gracia

I worked with an arrogant/obnoxious senior manager, who told a very high level client during a meeting “You don’t know what you are talking about”. Mortifying…

My manager was replaced in a week.

Joe Flood

Weird jargon like parking lot, as mentioned. Or, “Let’s crosswalk this back with stakeholders to rescope deliverables.” Huh?

The best, however, was a meeting I was at which began with, “I want this meeting to be about all of you but first…” followed by a 30 minute monologue.

Nichole Henley

Or how about the fact that meetings are scheduled for 30 minutes and the organizer just ASSUMES that they can continue with the meeting even if they’ve gone over the scheduled time and DON’T EVEN ADDRESS IT! Meanwhile I’m staring at my watch and wondering 1) when is this going to end?!! and 2) can I sneak out?

Gabriela Dow

Two things my husband (a program manager and civil engineer) recently told me about meetings he sat in on made me laugh:

1. In a meeting with a consulting firm that was seeking new business, the city engineer asked where a specific consultant was to speak to an issue. The answer “he didn’t think he needed to be here.” Doh, so much for that firm getting any work there…

2. In a meeting mitigating between two architects one said “Since I clearly have more years of experience than Jim, why are we even here?” to which my hubby Steve said “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that, which would make us all question the type of experience you missed all these years.”

Oh, and this seems to happen when a project is down to final dollars available as a construction project closes out… on field meetings there has been quite a few occassions when a contractor says to another “let’s take this outside and settle this like men” — no joke.

Makes my e-Gov meetings feel so tame. I rarely have anything that exciting to share at the dinner table šŸ˜‰

Srinidhi Boray

what is this meeting about, aah!! yes I remember
all please talk and make only consensus, I alone will make opinions
gosh got to run another meeting
hey you! take the meeting minutes, i will be busy talking all the time
close the door this meeting is about transparency
and, yes this meeting is about cost saving

Scott Span

I love top 5 lists. The worst thing I’ve heard someone say in a meeting is “…I’m sorry to tell you, however today is your last day, all of you. The company has gone bankrupt. Please pack your things by noon…”

On the top 5 note, I was recently asked to compile a top 5 for a colleague:

Guest Post: 5 Things Gen Y Needs to Know and No One is Telling Them

You’re not the best thing sliced bread!: It’s ok to express new ideas, to request new challenges, and to want to gain a promotion; however, respect the politics, culture and communication practices of your organization. Understand opportunities may present themselves – but you won’t be the CEO overnight.

If you have needs, communicate them:
Don’t get frustrated if your organization doesn’t do everything the way you think is most beneficial to success. Don’t assume those around you are mind readers. Speak up and communicate your ideas for positive changes, and do so in a manner appropriate for your organization.

You can’t do it all alone: Gen Y’s attachment to technology and drive for quick success often impedes the capacity to forge relationships with other generations. Some people from other generations may place more value on face to face communication as a way to build lasting relationships over time. Some day you will have your bosses’ job; however, not yet. Instead of focusing on what you will do when you get their job, focus on building relationships with them now. You’ll need support and mentoring as you progress in your career.

Pay attention to the culture: You’ll never find an organization that offers everything on your “work life balance” list. Decide what’s most important to you. Two of the biggest complaints employers have of Gen Y is that they demand too much too fast, and they often leave the company within a few years. If you understand the organizational culture, you can determine if it matches your needs; it then becomes much easier to avoid these and other obstacles.

Learn when to shut up:
Open communication is a valued Gen Y trait; however, that doesn’t mean say everything that is on your mind. This doesn’t mean don’t be yourself. However, sometimes it’s best to keep certain religious, political and social views out of the workplace. Be cautious to not over criticize those you work with, particularly in public. When utilizing forms of social media, be careful what you say about your organization and those who work there.

So what is the moral of the story? Gen Y is a fast growing group within the workforce. They are an innovative, talented, and ambitious generation. Gen Y can be a positive asset if properly understood. Understanding comes from communication. Gen Y needs to take some responsibility for increasing cross generational communication and understanding, and a first step in doing this is to acknowledge that they too still have much to learn.

Sterling Whitehead

#1 Rule for Meetings: Only call a meeting if you are going to make a decision. Communicate through other means if no decision will be made.

I wish I remembered where I heard that one because it’s one of my favorites.


Sterling – Only debate I have on that is weekly status meetings. While kind of lame, I actually loved it in previous jobs because was a chance for all of us to get together over a cup of coffee.

Gary Berg-Cross

I was at a meeting in which we a number of us senior managers were meeting a new VP for the first time. He opened with, “I always get the last word.”

Meetings with him did not always surface issues in a constructive way and 2 years later he was on the way out having delivered virtually nothing to a 5000 person organization and he was left to complain over how poorly he had been treated.


I was at a meeting once where another Government agency sent over an individual to make a presentation on a HRIS update. I know he was hoping to make the presentation to our Division Directors, but they did not want to attend when I scheduled it, most of the Division Directors sent people in their place. When we started to go around the table when he asked for names, he says to the first person “‘What is your job title? I usually make these presentations to someone higher up than you.”

Sterling Whitehead

@GovLoop — good point on the weekly status updates. Those are useful.

I’m curious — how do Andy, Megan (spelling?), and you do your weekly status updates? Phone? Email? Shared task management systems (like Remember the Milk)?