A tale of a failed project meeting

A man is frustrated after a failed project meeting

Once upon a time on a dull and tired Monday morning, Bill arrived at work at his desk when his phone buzzed. “Google Calendar notification: Project meeting within Drum at 9:15”. Damn, Bill thought. He hadn’t prepared anything for the project meeting. He had been taking care of his sick grandma the whole weekend. Or so everyone in his office thought. When really he had been conducting a real-life experiment on how many drinks a 15 stone marketing manager can down before the dance floor unexpectedly turns upside down.

As there was only 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start, Bill decided to make himself a cup of strong coffee and scroll his Facebook feed until the meeting host (his boss who was in Manchester on a business trip) emailed him the meeting URL. There was no point trying to prepare anything at this stage, so he decided to conjure a little speech if he’s asked to present something. He wasn’t even sure what the meeting was about. Preparing at this point would have been pointless. He joined the meeting by clicking the link. And so the meeting began.

 Who’s this?

11 minutes down the meeting, Bill was hearing the 18th person introduce themselves as they joined in late and he wasn’t quite sure why Lucy from HR had joined the project meeting. He had thought that the meeting was about the final couple of months of the Project and their pre-launch strategy. It wasn’t written anywhere, but in his opinion that would have made sense.

He was still thinking about the strategy while his boss Gerald was going through what they had agreed on the previous meeting two weeks ago. A meeting that was supposed to prepare everyone for today’s meeting. Bill smiled shortly as he remembered how Gerald had accidentally sent a link to his Google Photos of his trip to Spain (in the previous invitation email instead of the link to the online project meeting). It was still hilarious. Bill remembered a picture of Gerald wearing the most ridiculous sunglasses and a baby carrier. Haha, classic Gerald.


It was 9:45 and Bill was bored. Gerald had asked the team to brainstorm ideas for the pre-launch event which was actually already fully planned, by Bill. That didn’t make him happy at all. Especially since he heard people were focused on making complaints about a client company. Their COO who was in charge of a previous event they hosted together resulting in complete and utter failure.

Bill started dreaming about a project meeting in which he would be the host and not Gerald. When his focus drifted back on the meeting, he heard Sarah talking about how the weather is so bad in New Zealand right now. Sigh. Bill imagined Gerald filing his nails and not listening to the conversation at all. Now Sarah is talking about how the kids in her child’s school have opened an Instagram account where they post daily pictures on their sleeping history teacher. What?? Everyone else is laughing, but Bill is furious. Already 45 minutes down the meeting without discussing the Project with one (sane) word. The only thing he seems to hear during the whole project meeting is Sarah’s high-pitched voice in his headphones.

Your turn, Bill

After a while, Gerald wakes up from his hibernation and finally brings the conversation back on track: the Project. At this point, Bill is halfway through his search on dog beds on eBay. Suddenly he hears his name. Ugh, he thinks. Gerald has just asked where Bill is with his part of the project and what has he planned for the pre-launch event. OK Bill, now’s your chance. You’ve worked so hard and now you can finally explain your boss what you have done. With zero preparation Bill retrieves some mock-ups he has done on Illustrator and shares them with the other attendees.

Halfway through his presentation, he hears Sarah’s voice. Again?? Is she preparing for a competition of The World’s Most Annoying Person? Sarah isn’t sure about the colouring of the ads. Well thanks, Sarah, your opinion is higher in value as you are head of the call centre (what are you even doing in this project meeting??) and have zero relations to the ads. But Gerald (probably just surprised by having someone fire up a comment) asks the rest to give their opinions on the colours as well. After some mumbling sounds (because no one really cares and they just want the meeting to be done with), Gerald decides that the colours are changed completely. Great, Bill thinks. I was supposed to send this to the client today but apparently not.

Time to stop

Gerald seems smug about having one decision been made during the meeting. It’s a new record though, Bill says to himself. Totally unaware that there were no actual planning made about the pre-launch during the entire hour-and-a-half (which he probably doesn’t even remember being scheduled). Gerald suggests they meet again in another two weeks to discuss what’s happened between this project meeting and the next. He asks people to email him the notes they took during the meeting. “Just keep doing what you’re doing” he says, as he adjourns the meeting. Bill rolls his eyes. This is going to happen all over again in two weeks. Can anyone help us??

Can you help Bill and his team? How many project meeting/web meeting failures did you spot from the text? We will reveal the right answer on our next week’s post, accompanied with some tips on how to avoid these failures from happening. Stay tuned.

Do you have similar experiences on a failed project meeting? Or web meetings in general? Share your experiences by commenting below!

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