You have tried everything to avoid the horror, but here you are: Stuck in yet another boring meeting. Don’t suffer any longer! Read on to discover five somewhat quirky tips to escape… or never even reach this stage of despair..
Maybe you sensed the boredom long beforehand. Or maybe the meeting actually looked interesting on paper but unfortunately turned out devoid of all meaning. Howsoever you got yourself into the mess, it is time to get out!
1. Choose a seat close to the exit
Whatever strategy you choose to leave the meeting, you will have to get up from the table and find yourself quite literally standing out. To reduce feelings of discomfort and embarrassment, choose a seat close to the door so you don’t need to cross the entire room under the disapproving gaze of your colleagues.
By staying close to the door, you can slip out fast.
- You are not always free to choose the seat you like.
- Of course, you also need to anticipate that the meeting might end up boring.
2. Pick your kids up from school
In the middle of the meeting, smile apologetically at the moderator and explain that you need to pick your kids up from school (or kindergarten or the nanny’s…). What a dedicated mother / father you are!
- The moderator can hardly hold you back.
- You cultivate the image of a caring parent.
- You show that you are not ready to sacrifice your family life for your career.
- That is all very well if you have children. But maybe you don’t?
- This method is more difficult to apply when other parents are present who don’t get up.
- Additionally, this excuse might end up irritating your colleagues if used too often.
- Depending on the company, you might even block the progression of your career.
3. Fake an urgent phone call
If you are farsighted, set an alarm with your regular ringtone to go off during the meeting. Then, whisper into your phone or shortly leave the room. Announce an emergency (the hospitalization of your great-uncle or a flooded basement) and leave immediately.
- This method is well adapted for geeks and smartphone addicts.
- Admit that you might even enjoy staging this show.
- You better prepare your exit beforehand. It will probably difficult to set your alarm under the table during the meeting.
- This method requires serious confidence and basic acting skills that not everybody has.
If this tip has intrigued you, have a look at the video below!
4. Fake a sudden sickness
For a little more drama, pretend to suddenly fall sick during the meeting. Squint your eyes, open your mouth (for the more advanced, a string of saliva slowly descending from the corner of your mouth), let your hands shake ever so slightly and lift your head with visible effort to show how bravely you are trying to fight your body’s weakness. For the final showdown, break down onto the table and wait for a colleague to help you get up and leave the room under the pitiful stares of the gathering.
- If your performance is convincing, you have found yourself a foolproof way out of the room.
- Your colleagues will not only empathize with you but also admire your determination: Despite your apparent sickness you forced yourself to attend the meeting.
Once again, a convincing performance is maybe not that difficult. After all, remember Doctor Knock in Jules Romain’s piece, “*Falling sick is an outdated notion that no longer finds any application due to modern science. Health is nothing but a word that could be wiped from our vocabulary without any inconvenience. For my part, everybody I know is more or less affected by a smaller or greater number of sicknesses at more or less advanced stages.*”
- You need to be an excellent actor. Ideally, you have already gained experience practicing these fake sicknesses while in school.
- If your performance goes wrong and you are found out, you ruin at once both your professional reputation and your acting credibility.
- If you succeed, you might not be able to go home or back to your desk. A concerned colleague might insist on escorting you to the doctor’s instead.
- Let’s not forget that faking it too often might eventually result in making it: You fall sick for real.
5. Be honest
A more serious approach consists of leaving a meeting that is wasting your time by explaining that your presence does not add any value. Politely point out that the topics discussed do not concern you and that you are unable to contribute. Make clear that you are acting in the best interest of the company and that your time would be better spent on your ongoing projects.
- You avoid having to lie and having to fabricate more lies to keep your story coherent.
- This method proves that you are a real professional and committed to the best interest of your company.
- This technique requires diplomacy. Otherwise your colleagues might get the impression that you are looking down on them or believe yourself too important.
- You cannot repeat this method too often because a skilled professional would not find himself continuously stuck in meetings that don’t require his presence.
- If the moderator of the meeting insists, you risk losing face or starting a conflict.
The morale of the story
It cannot be underlined enough: The best way to avoid boring meetings is to not show up in the first place. Carefully study the agenda and don’t hesitate to decline invitations while simultaneously offering an explanation (a topic that doesn’t concern you, lack of contributions you could make, etc.).
As a result, you showcase real professionalism because:
- You studied the agenda.
- You try to invest your time wisely.
- You are capable of taking decisions and do not passively follow instructions without thinking.
You might nevertheless find yourself obliged to attend a meeting you tried to avoid. Or the meeting you actively chose to attend might not live up to your expectations after all. In these cases, try to remain positive and get the best out of the situation by being proactive. For example, offer taking notes, ask questions and participate.