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A Meetings Manifesto

Most meetings are a waste of time.

No more.

No more boring meetings, okay? No more useless, soul-sucking meetings. No more no-impact, waste-of-time, steal-your-flow meetings. Okay?

If you’re going to have a meeting, you should get something out of it.

For some reason, managers balk at a $500 purchase, but don’t blink an eye at calling five people into an hour long meeting. Surprise, the meeting costs more.

Meeting problems are solvable. Say no to meetings without plans, structure, or facilitation.

Minimum qualities

A start time that people adhere to. If the boss gets to the meeting at 9:05, then the schedule should say 9:05.

Attendees should have a reason to be there. Hint: if you are laptopping then you don’t need to be there.

An outcome. Almost always, this requires an upfront, stated purpose.

Facilitation that draws from every attendee. If you aren’t there to speak, then you don’t need to be there.

Facilitation that gives time to speak based on merit. Say no to domineering trolls.

Superstar Qualities

Every meeting has a goal, agenda, and preparation. Insist on a GAP or don’t go.

Structure meetings for efficiency. Order the agenda items so that people can be excused early for issues that aren’t pertinent to them.

Follow the law of two feet. If you aren’t helping or being helped, walk out.

If you make a decision to do something, write it down in a place where you can track it (Pivotal, Trello, etc).

Uggh. Powerpoint. Just lies and sloppy thinking. Plus bad fonts and ugly art. Try sending around a memo instead. Long form writing requires clear thinking and communication.

Practice active listening. People won’t hear your idea unless you’ve heard theirs.

For healthy discussion, you need a minimum of three ideas. One idea is a bad idea. Two ideas is an argument. Three ideas is a discussion.

Brainstorming has two parts, flare, followed by focus. Everyone in the company should have at least one facilitation method for each.

A group of people who know how to brainstorm amplifies the intelligence of the group. A group of people yelling at each other does not.

Preparation happens before the meeting. You don’t need five people to watch one person look up numbers in a report. That one person screwed everyone by not preparing.

Where’d this manifesto come from? Work.

We were brainstorming the beginning of our training materials for leadership coaches and were trying to articulate the purpose. What did we want to fix about the way people work?

This was our starting point. This manifesto led to writing a book, which led to us fixing our own meetings, which led to us fixing meetings at five other companies.

If you want to fix meetings at your own company, I’d love to talk to you. If you schedule a call with me, I’ll share with you a draft of the book that solves all this, “No More Boring Meetings, Okay?”

And if you want to know more about our work delivering high-quality leadership training through expert personalized coaching, head over to our Leadership page.