The Best Boardroom and Meeting Scenes in Movies

by Alexandrea Roman on February 20, 2015 and last updated on July 19, 2018

The film awards season in 2015 is about to wrap up this weekend with the biggest awards show of them all — the Oscars. So for this occasion, let’s have a little fun. We asked our staff for their favorite meeting scenes on film, and here’s the list we came up with (in no particular order):

Gung Ho (1986) – “We all speak English.”

This scene from the 1986 movie Gung Ho is the perfect example of what not to do in a board meeting. Here, Michael Keaton’s character, Hunt Stevenson, is delivering a presentation to a Japanese board of directors. He attempts to make jokes to break the ice, but his brand of humor doesn’t fly with his audience. It’s is a lesson in cultural differences, folks. If you’re meeting with foreigners, learn more about their culture so that you’ll find common ground with them. Otherwise, you’ll end up like Stevenson who just fumbles his way through his meeting. Talk about awkward!

The Iron Lady (2011) – “You haven’t got the courage for this fight.”

Meryl Streep won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Iron Lady, and it’s easy to see why. She plays Margaret Thatcher, the formidable former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and in this particular scene, she tells the men she’s meeting with that they don’t have the courage to fight for a cause because they never had to fight hard for anything in their lives — unlike her, who had to work her way to the top because she wasn’t as privileged. It’s a charged scene in which a female leader is fully aware of her power and is not afraid to use it. Women seeking inspiration will find a strong role model in Thatcher, politics aside.

The Sum of All Fears (2002) – “Everyone has opinions, Mr Cabot.”

A meeting isn’t quite complete without an opinionated attendee, so this scene from the 2002 blockbuster thriller The Sum of All Fears definitely delivers. What should be a serious scene takes a darkly humorous turn when DCI William Cabot (played by Morgan Freeman) was interrupted by Senator Jessup. The senator declares that everyone has opinions, then proceeds to share his wife’s opinion of him which is, let’s say, a tad too personal. It’s a classic case of TMI (which stands for ‘too much information,’ in case you aren’t updated on Internet lingo). Here’s a friendly reminder: Don’t share TMI in meetings. Learn what to say and what not to say, and when to move along.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) – “A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days.”

Now, before anyone says that our favorite meeting scenes are too serious, check out this next clip from the Austin Powers movie. Here, Dr. Evil is trying to figure out a suitable amount for a ransom, but comes up short at his first attempt. His right-hand man bravely speaks up and makes a more reasonable suggestion, which our evil overlord takes too much to heart. It’s a silly scene from a comedy movie, but it does show a good example of how meetings should be about listening to one another and considering each other’s suggestions, even if you happen to be standing on the highest rung of the corporate ladder.

Along Came Polly (2004) – “We cannot sum up a man’s life with a bunch of numbers on a computer screen.”

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers an impassioned speech as Sandy Lyle in this scene from the romantic comedy Along Came Polly. He tries to convince everyone that an otherwise uninsurable man should get insured — and succeeds in doing so, complete with applause and cheers. It just goes to show that a well-delivered argument that touches on both logic and emotions can make people change their minds (and perhaps, bend otherwise rigid rules). If you ever need tips on how to be a persuasive speaker and a convincing presenter, then you’ll learn a lot from this clip.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1997) – “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

This iconic scene from Star Wars shows what happens if you belittle Darth Vader’s power; Admiral Motti wouldn’t have stood a chance had Governer Tarkin not intervened. James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader utters a line that has become one of the most-well known quotes from the world’s greatest movie franchise.

If there’s anything we can learn from this scene, it’s to not dismiss anyone’s ideas in a meeting so quickly and easily. Although you’re not likely to come across a Darth Vader in the corporate world (or so we hope), you never know when someone has good ideas until you actually give the time to listen.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) – “In short, we’re loaded.”

If you’re a chairman of a company, what would you do after hearing that you’ve had a very profitable year according to fiscal reports? You’ll probably buy a yacht, book a trip to the Bahamas, roll the dice in Vegas, or buy some islands in the tropics. But that’s not what Mr. Hudsucker had in mind in The Hudsucker Proxy. The good old sir decides to quit right then and there, and he does so in a spectacular manner that we never ever recommend anyone to do in real life. It works only in the movies.

Robocop (1987) – “It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the future of law enforcement.”

We don’t need to worry yet about robots in the boardroom, but don’t be surprised if the time comes sooner than you think. Lucky for us, Robocop has already given us a clear warning on what can happen if we bring in beta versions of weaponised robots in an enclosed room filled with people. Hopefully, our older selves — and our ancestors as well — will remember this scene for its lesson, and not just for its rather primitive CGI.

Margin Call (2011) – “I’m telling you, this is it!”

John Tuld, CEO and Chairman of the Board, schools everyone — from the young executives to seasoned C-suite managers — in this scene from Margin Call. Jeremy Irons is at his best as an intimidating and razor-sharp business leader. He doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but he’s straight to the point and clear about what he expects from the people around him. His motives in the movie may be less than noble, but he does embody the characteristics of a powerful leader. Watch and learn.

 

These meeting scenes are our personal choices, so we’d like to hear what your favorites are! Share them with us in the comments below.

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About Alexandrea Roman

Alexandrea is a social media specialist and blogger for Convene.

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