Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators » Mind Tools Blog
Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators

Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators

April 11, 2017

Please join us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: Friday, Apr 14 @ 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST)

Topic: Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators

Host: @Mind_Tools

About This Week’s Chat

I don’t know about you, but there are few things I detest as much as meetings that waste time.

We often hear the expression, “Time is money.” There is a big difference between the two, though. If I take your money, it’s possible to pay it back. If I steal your time, I’ve taken something that I can never return.

One of the biggest time wasters in meetings is when people don’t prepare. When it’s their turn to give feedback or make a proposal, they fall around between skimpy facts and hearsay. It’s even worse when they offer their opinions as fact. They can’t answer questions in a well-considered and thorough way. Trying to get them to make a productive contribution is like trying to herd cats, and the discussion often ends on an unsatisfactory note.

Another source of disruption is self-important people. I recently attended a few meetings where one man considered his own voice superior to what we were there to achieve. He interrupted guest speakers with 15-minute monologues disguised as “questions.” He made a fine art of repeating everything the chairperson said at least twice, and in twice as many words. His behavior devoured time with all the sensitivity of an alligator devouring its prey. Meetings that could have been productive and constructive became stressful and fruitless.

Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators

It seems I’m not the only person around who detests unproductive meetings. In our latest Twitter poll, we asked which behaviors people dislike most. “Poor time management” was at the top of the scoreboard with 33 percent. In joint second place, with 27 percent, were “too much talking” and “playing politics.” Only 13 percent of people voted for “arguing” as the behavior they dislike most.

In this week’s #MTtalk Twitter chat, we’re talking about “Meetings: Herding Cats and Taming Alligators,” and we’d love to hear your ideas. The following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:

  • How can you prevent dealing with an issue in a meeting from sounding like criticism?
  • Why do you think meetings are often unproductive?
  • How might you help to focus a meeting or get it back on track when you are not the chairperson?
  • How might you deal with someone who is not doing their follow-up actions?
  • What can you do to manage a person who dominates the discussion?
  • If you could share one tip to make meetings more effective, what would it be?
  • What can you do to avoid cognitive bias from occurring?
  • What’s your top tip for handling people who are repeatedly late for meetings?


To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.

At Mind Tools, we like hearing from people all over the globe. We’d like to learn from you, too, and we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.

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