5 Ways to Fail During an Important Meeting (and How to Avoid Them)

Gabrielle Moss for join.me

Each year, the average executive wastes five days waiting for meetings to start. And the average employee doesn't make out much better — most of us attend eight work meetings per week, which means those technical delays are responsible for your missed vacation days, delayed dates, and time spent reading bedtime stories with one eye on your smartphone.

But simple, streamlined presentation software like join.me can cut down on those delays with easy-to-use programs and intuitive technology that everyone already understands — programs that don't require constant plug-in updates, time-consuming sign-ups, or assistance from Steve in IT. With that in mind, here are a few other meeting nightmares that join.me can turn into totally sweet presentation dreams.


The One Where You Forget to Invite an Entire Department

Your presentation is perfect, impeccable, and dare I say, a little sexy. You've worked out every kink, gone through ten different drafts, and delivered a dramatic rendition of it to your dog (FYI, he thought it was great). Everything is in place… except for the entire 12-person sales team, who you forgot to include on your meeting invite. As a result, they are now out of office having a group lunch at that place with the yard-long margaritas. Sure, you got the 40 other email addresses right when you scheduled your meeting, but it's tough to feel good about that with 12 empty chairs in the audience crushing your confidence. Next time, don't just go from memory when writing up your meeting's invitee list — use an online meeting program like join.me to invite whole departments with one click, or create custom email lists within your address book for each specific kind of meeting that you have. It'll save you time, embarrassment, and make you seem like the business rock star your dog thinks you are.

The One Where You Have No Idea Who's Next

You may have hyperventilated a teeny bit on the elevator ride up here, but you finally gave your presentation — and it was flawless. You feel sorry for whoever has to follow you… wait, who is actually supposed to follow you? It seems half the people here have an old version of the paper agenda and half of them have an updated version that says something completely different, which creates confusion that immediately wipes your awesome presentation from everyone's mind. Ugh. If only there were a way to not only clearly communicate agenda updates to each attendee, but to also allow anyone to jump in and instantly begin showing their materials if another presenter falls through or isn't ready. Oh, wait, join.me's presenter swap feature totally does that! If you don't have join.me, at least take a few moments out of your busy pre-meeting hyperventilation schedule to chat with your fellow presenters to establish the speaking order with them so that you'll be assured smooth transitions at the start and end of your presentation.


The One Where You Oversleep

You were burning the midnight oil last night, developing a stunning presentation on your department's quarterly numbers — one that will impress even that one executive who you only ever see at the annual Christmas party. So, of course, when you hit the hay at 3 a.m. for four hours of highly efficient sleep, you forgot to set your alarm and end up sleeping until 8:15. Despite your best efforts to speed up your morning routine (i.e. trying to blow dry your hair and drink coffee at the same time), you missed your bus. Oh, this is not good. This is so not good. You could spend the next 15 minutes sitting at this bus stop, meticulously working out how you're going to change your name to "Skippy" and start a new life as a tour guide at the Grand Canyon… or you could figure out a way to make it work. Run back home, get in touch with your boss, and pitch him a new plan that makes the most of whatever technology you have available: you can deliver a bare-bones version of your presentation to the room via speakerphone; or you can log on to join.me on your iPad and deliver your original presentation, including all of your visual aids, remotely. Whatever option you choose, the most important factor is to deliver your presentation on time, and with as much authority as if you were there.


The One Where You Bring the Wrong Pen

Taking notes at an executive board meeting is an easy way to get to know some of the higher-ranking staff at your company and make a good impression. That is, until you realize that you grabbed a pen that has dried up completely. You quietly ask your boss if she has a pen; she doesn't, because bringing a notebook and a pen that works were literally your only responsibilities for this meeting. You stare around the room, and see that your only options are either: A. trying to engrave your meeting notes into your notebook paper or B. asking the people in control of your entire professional future to lend you a pen. As all the most important moments of your life flash before your eyes — birthday parties, graduations, grabbing the wrong pen — you realize that this pen drama could have been easily avoided. You could have armed yourself with pens that have ink level windows instead of using the cheapie pens in the supply closet. Or could have planned to take notes on a digital tablet. Or you could have taken the lead in getting this meeting set up via join.me and recorded the entire thing, eliminating the need to take notes and introducing you to all the higher ups as "that tech-savvy assistant with the forward-thinking ideas" instead of "that dork who can't even figure out how a pen works."


The One Where A Co-Worker Wants to Chat During a Meeting

You're in hour two of a three hour meeting, and even though it's a pretty important one, you can tell that almost everyone mentally checked out about 15 minutes ago. Your cubicle-mate starts making eye contact with you, motioning for you to look at something he wrote in his notebook. Did he write down an insight that could ignite a brainstorm, leading the two of you to interject with a suggestion so brilliant, it brings this meeting back to life and makes you look like geniuses? Or is it another of his drawings of Joe from Accounts Receivable riding a walrus? One of those options makes the prospect of getting caught chatting worth the risk; the other, not so much. Work out rules of communication with your closest office collaborators before a big meeting —discuss what you're willing to chat about about once you're in the meeting (ways to cut operations costs, yes; walruses, no), and the ways in which you're willing to do it (so that no one looks like they're just goofing off). Of course, join.me eliminates the risk entirely, with an online chat feature that's integrated into the software. The chat feature allows employees to talk to each other privately without disrupting the meeting — and, more importantly, it only transmits words, not drawings of staff from other departments hanging out with aquatic mammals. Phew.


Your time is worth hanging on to — so use a little planning and some technological solutions to get your five days of waiting back. If you enter join.me's Win a 5-Day Dream Getaway Sweepstakes, you just might spend those extra days on an all-inclusive, five-day, five-night getaway in the destination of your choice.

Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.


This post is a sponsored collaboration between join.me and Studio@Gawker.

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