Bad meetings suck

Kenny Isidoro
Jan 23, 2019 · 3 min read
[Hufton+Crow/Getty Images]

The design critique was the foundational education method for reviewing work when we were in school. You pin up your project, present it to the class, and then, get hammered on by your critics. It’s a humbling experience, with real value if you can interpret the negative feedback and convert it into alternative design ideas.

Fast Company had a really great article a couple months ago on how to incorporate design critique into the workplace. The whole piece is worth a read, but I especially agree with the ending: “A culture of criticism means that critique becomes just another part of the design process.” When we open up the design process and get critical in our own work, we all get better at designing.


All this got me thinking about the meetings we run in our own office.

When is a meeting a “design critique”? When is it a “brainstorm session”? When is it a “workshop”? What’s the difference? With the right understanding of why we’re meeting and clarity on the type of meeting, I think we can be really effective and productive, not just in design, but in our overall practice.

A couple more references, if you’ve got the time:

MeetingSift lists six types of meetings:

1. Status Update Meetings

2. Information Sharing Meetings

3. Decision Making Meetings

4. Problem Solving Meetings

5. Innovation Meetings

6. Team Building Meetings

Lucid, a meeting software system, has identified sixteen (!) types of meetings:

Meetings with Known Participants and Predictable Patterns

  • Team Cadence Meetings
  • Progress Updates
  • One-on-Ones
  • Action Review Meetings
  • Governance Cadence Meetings
  • The Right Group to Create Change:

Meetings with Participants and Patterns Assembled to Fit the Need

  • Idea Generation Meetings
  • Planning Meetings
  • Workshops
  • Problem Solving Meetings
  • Decision Making Meeting

Efforts to Evaluate and Influence: Meetings Between Us and Them

  • Information Gathering Meetings
  • Introductions
  • Issue Resolution Meetings
  • Community of Practice Meetings
  • Training Sessions
  • Broadcast Meetings
[Marion Barraud for HBR]

And finally, some tips from Harvard Business Review, on how to design meetings that make people want to attend.

  • Work hard on being present
  • Demonstrate empathy
  • Set up and manage the conversation
  • Include enough time on every topic to allow broad participation
  • Slow down the conversation to include everyone
  • Check in with people at specific times


Over to you… what do you do to make the most out of your meetings?

Kenny Isidoro

Written by

Multidisciplinary design operative at the intersection of building, branding, and business

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