Three Good Things in Good Meetings
by Katie Goodell
As most companies do, Pivot occasionally takes some time to revisit our habits and processes around meetings. It amuses me how many theories there are surrounding the structure of meetings, and a lot of energy in an office can be invested in discussing procedure and “rules” of meetings. Many of us have probably even been in meetings about meetings!
How long is the ideal meeting? How often should we meet? How many people should attend? Should we sit down or stand up? What is the ideal temperature for a meeting room?
While I’m a firm believer in the answer “it depends” to most questions of that nature, I have found a few meeting truths to be self-evident. Here are three things I see present in all of my favorite coworker meetings, which I try to incorporate into meetings I organize and attend.
- A leader.I find meetings more enjoyable and more productive when one person is designated to run the meeting. The meeting leader doesn’t have to be the most senior colleague in the room, nor the person who has the most information or is the authority on the topic. You just need someone to take responsibility over keeping people on track, deciding what fits into the scope of the meeting and what doesn’t, and who can summarize and wrap it up at the end. With a good leader or facilitator, meetings can still be democratic, inclusive, and have all voices represented; they will also have enough structure to be productive.
- Clear action items by the end. One purpose of most meetings is to move a project or idea forward. While decisions can be made during the group gathering, there are almost always next steps or responsibilities to take beyond the meeting. If a meeting ends without delegation of future responsibilities (or affirmation to continue the work that’s being done), it can end up feeling like wasted time. Make sure everyone can answer the questions What next? Who? By when? at the end of each meeting.
- Some laughter. Office work can be isolating. I see meetings with my coworkers as an opportunity to experience some camaraderie and community at work. My favorite meetings have a few minutes where we can laugh together. Whether it’s telling a personal story, talking about other projects, or chuckling about a YouTube video, it’s refreshing to remember that the people working with me to accomplish professional goals are also fun and delightful individuals. Meetings help us get some humanity and personal connection back into our office work.
By identifying my favorite parts of well-run meetings, I’m able to shape the meetings I schedule around those values and bring a positive perspective to other meetings I attend. So here’s to hoping you don’t dread meetings, but look on them as opportunities to create connection, move work forward, and get things done in an orderly and collaborative way.