Some companies have abandoned the whole idea of a meeting. But if your schedule is still saturated with them, here's how to greet your meets much more skillfully.
When placed into a group situation like a meeting, people rely on "messy proxies for expertise." Rather than deferring to competency, people take confidence, loudness, or even race as signals that a person is to be listened to.
To defuse that distraction, don't brainstorm, brainwrite.
People who sat around circular tables were found to be more group-oriented than those arrayed around square tables.
Meetings don't just last 15, 30, or 60 minutes. If the work is done in eight, bail: that's what Sheryl Sandberg does.
At Square, having the decision maker in the room leads to quicker decisions--and more original products.
Organizational psychologist and Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams author Roger Schwarz dropped some knowledge on Harvard Business Review that we're still adjusting to. Instead of listing out the agenda with limp, open-ended declaratives, turn them into answerable questions. For example:
- Don't write: “Discuss video schedule”
- Do write: “When will videos be completed?”
Suddenly, everybody knows what outcome is to be looked for--and you'll all know when it's been found.
Some old school Jeff Bezos wisdom: If the folks in the meeting can't be fed by two pizzas, then the meeting is too big.
Before you change from one question on the agenda to the next, Schwarz says make sure everyone who wants to have a say on the topic can make their input. Why? Because otherwise they might be asking that question 15 minutes from now--which gives everybody in the room the heavy cognitive costs of task switching.
Readers: What do you do to make meetings less awful? Let us know in the comments.
Hat tip: HBR
[Sitting in a Circle: Camilo Torres via Shutterstock]