The importance of meetings, types of meetings and lack of meetings

I have been thinking about meetings, how they are useful and why they are so often misused ever since an interesting talk from the guys at Happy Cog when I was at SXSW. So I thought I would put a few of my thoughts out there.

Meetings are always important to have, sometimes. In some organisations, a ‘meeting’ can be a dirty word that fills potential attendees with fear of losing valuable productivity on their current work, boredom, irrelevance, falling asleep in front of the boss/client, faffy overhead and no clear goals or outcomes. Even 37Signals launched a campaign against meetings.

This is clearly no good and is thankfully not the case here at Delib.

So do I think meetings are any use? Not only are they good, they are absolutely essential and can improve everyone’s productivity, when done right.

To keep this short and sweet (as any good meeting should aim to be 😉 ) here are my key rules that we follow here to help us:

  1. Be on time and insist on it for all other attendees.
    The key part of this one is the ‘insisting’ bit. We are not at school, we work as a team together and rely on each other; we shouldn’t expect the meeting chair to have to be the ‘angry teacher’.
  2. If the meeting is a short catch up, stand up.
    Taken from the Scrum methodology we know and love, standing up ensures people stay focussed and everyone has a clear reward for keeping the meeting efficient.
  3. When you’re starting a new project, always, always, always have a face to face kick off meeting.
    Too often these are skipped due to busy diaries or unwilling travellers. This will only come and bite you during crunch periods when that previous human interaction really does help everyone in the project team understand each other and work together.
  4. Have an agenda.
    Probably a given for formal meetings (I hope) but even informal ‘gatherings’ will benefit from the loose goals being written up at the start on a whiteboard and ticked off as you go.
  5. Invite the minimum number of people.
    You don’t need everyone from a particular team or department to be present. Trust that team members can share and disseminate the output of a meeting to their colleagues.

To finish off here’s a good article by Kevin Hoffman similar in content to his talk at SXSW and based around the 37Signals campaign.

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