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Strategies for Better Meetings

23 July 2019

Janie watched Dan Pink’s Pinkcast 3.6 This is how to make your meetings less awful and appreciated the suggestions for making some meaningful changes to improve meetings.

Tags: dan pink, janie read, meetings

I’ve recently transitioned into a new role at Allison Partners and between this change and my volunteer commitments, I’ve found that I have a lot more meetings in my daily schedule. I think meetings can be a great way to get people together to make progress, but they can also sometimes feel like a time suck in an already hectic day. I’ve found myself reflecting on ways to ensure that the meetings I schedule are as productive as possible, so I was delighted to come across Dan Pink’s Pinkcast 3.6 This is how to make your meetings less awful.

I am a big fan of the Pinkcast series because the videos are always short and they include practical suggestions. In this episode, Pink talked with Steven Rogelberg, author of the book, The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance. Rogelberg shared three tips for improving meetings, which he referred to as “separation, standing, and shrink.”

“Separation” is the idea that meetings are always an interruption to whatever you are currently working on. Rogelberg said good leaders understand this, and work to bridge the gap between “meeting world” and the rest of the world. One way to help meetings not feel like such a disruption is by being a good host. For example, offering beverages or snacks, and being sure everyone in the room knows one another and is comfortable. This is something that is very important to us at Allison Partners. If you visit our office, you’ll see that we have a wide variety of beverages in our refrigerator. That’s one of the ways we invite clients to take a moment to transition before they sit down for a meeting.  

“Standing” is exactly what it sounds like. Rogelberg emphasized that most meetings are seated because this is what we are used to. He recommended that we challenge the status quo by holding standing or walking meetings instead of always sitting down. Getting up and moving around can be a great way to get ideas flowing and can lead to more productive sessions.

The concept of “shrink” is another challenge to the typical meeting format. Rogelberg shared that most meetings are scheduled for an hour because this is the default meeting time in Outlook. Rather than just going with the default, he proposed that we consider shrinking the meeting time to 48 minutes instead of an hour, and then challenge ourselves to finish the meeting within this time frame. The extra minutes help prevent back-to-back meetings, and the extra attention to managing time can nudge a group back to attention when discussions wander.

I thought all three of these were helpful tips for different types of meetings. I’m trying to be more purposeful as I plan for upcoming meetings, and am looking forward to implementing some of these suggestions to make my own meetings more productive (and less awful). If this is a topic that interests you, we’ve written several other posts about meetings that you might also enjoy.


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