We all hate bad meetings.

But you can be the person who makes them good.

You can be the one who cuts through the ‘Blah Blah Blah' - like Moses parting a Red Sea of noise.

You can make things happen.

You can influence others so you have a bigger impact.

When you do, people will take notice.

They might even call you a Go Getter.

It's not hard. You just need to ask the right questions.

When I discovered this in my own career, it made me more productive. It made my stakeholders happier. It made my boss love me.

But the best part? Now I don’t have to waste my precious time in crappy meetings!

You don’t have to, either.

Let me show you how.

The Only Upside to Bad Meetings

Do you want to know the one good thing about bad meetings?

There’s lots of room for improvement.

Bad meetings aren’t just full of hot air. They’re also full of opportunities.

The opportunity to drive action. To get things done. To be seen as someone who takes action.

Believe me, senior leaders notice who’s making things happen.

Well, the good ones anyway. Bad leaders just love the sound of their own voice.

But the good ones will pay attention to the people who get things done. They’ll listen to them instead of doing all the talking.

They’ll also notice who was wasting everyone’s time in the meeting. Adding nothing but fluff. Not coming prepared but still trying to dominate the conversation.

Just flapping their lips, going “Blah Blah Blah” and not actually driving any action.

One Simple Trick for Getting Things Done

The easiest way to fix this is by asking a cut-through question.

I discovered this when I ran the professional development program in a finance team at Asahi and Swheppes.

My boss and I met with HR to get some ideas for projects the staff could do to broaden their skills.

HR had some wonderful ideas. And being HR, they also had some wacky ones.

Like a project to deliver finance results through interpretive dance.


I don’t know what kind of drugs they’ve got in HR, but it must be powerful stuff.

But the HR person had some good ideas (which thankfully didn’t involve anyone shaking their hips). So, when the meeting was about to finish, I decided to add one more thing.

I’d been reading a book called Getting Things Done. It emphasizes the importance of always identifying the next step, as it helps drive action.

I realized we hadn’t done that in the meeting.

So just as we were wrapping up, I said, “I love your ideas. What’s the next step with this?”

She then made a plan for what she needed to do before coming back to us with helpful information.

As soon as the HR person left the room, my very experienced boss turned to me and said:

"Alan, that was a great question! Without it, we wouldn't have gotten any follow-through from HR."

Cut Through the Noise

Meetings are often too high level. It’s just going around in circles, sharing ideas.

That’s great if you want to talk and sound smart. But not so useful if you want to actually get things done.

Whenever I’m in one of those meetings, I make sure to drop my cut-through question:

“What do we need to do to move this forward?”

That single sentence grounds the conversation in reality. (Now who’s sounding like HR?)

No more fluffing around. No more theorizing. It encourages everyone to make a concrete plan. To figure out how to implement those great ideas instead of just talking about them.

Bonus: it also stops far-fetched ideas in their tracks.

I’m all for encouraging ideas to a point. But there’s always someone with their head in the clouds.

Double bonus: asking that cut-through question will help them realize their idea isn’t feasible.

Even better, they’ll come to their senses without you having to tell them!

From Action to Impact

You asked the cut-through question. You put a stop to the noise and identified a suitable action.

That’s a great first step. But it doesn’t mean you’ve had an impact. Not yet.

That will be the subject of the next newsletter.

Stay tuned and I’ll give you tips on how to make it happen, even when you’re dealing with people who don’t like to be held accountable.