• Chetan Walia

How To Have A Meeting That Doesn’t Suck

“Oh God, not another meeting.”

Yes it’s important to communicate and collaborate. Yet meetings end up sucking up more energy than they create. We fail to observe how badly conceived our meetings really are. We only observe the effects - phone checks, people speaking up only to prove they’re smart, no follow through and virtually no one contributing to the minutes (so much for paying attention !). So how must we reinvent a necessary ritual but one that truly inspires. Here are four tips from how we do this at BeOne.

1- Make progress. Don’t make rules.

For our recent strategic meetings we created a set of agreements that were structured enough for people to know where we are headed, yet loose enough for them to make their own plans and take their own risks. For a meeting to be exciting, it must communicate to the people;

  • Whatever excites you, excites us. Feel free to discuss whatever you are passionate about.

  • Humour. Keep it fun. Really, whats the point of anything in life without laughter.

  • Keep it short. If a presentation can’t communicate the idea in 5-minutes, it never really will. Get to the point people. The details can follow.

  • Take Initiative. Make mistakes and make them faster than anyone else.

  • Take ownership. Take ownership of actions emerging from discussions.

2- Brand it.

Create an identity. In this world, even meetings need a brand to maintain their appeal. To make the pieces really stick, come up with a name, a look, a jingle, a punchline. Involve the group in designing and conceiving this. It gets people involved and immersed. And it gives the bland meetings a much needed design boost.

3- Make it hands on.

Chuck the powerpoint in favour of the good old fashioned notepads, pens, markers and charts. Let people explain their ideas live and use their heads versus a laptop. We had our meeting under the winter sun and next to a pool. The best way to have dialogues is to have a hands-on meeting and not a computer-on one.

4- Make it inclusive.

Invite people from across disciplines. Our intent for our strategic meeting was to build momentum and action. This lens combined with the openness of the meeting prompted people to come up with questions on their own on their roles, on their expectations, on seeking feedback, on ideas to collaborate better and most importantly on building an action plan on their own including a follow up mechanism.

These meetings create energy. They create action. They trigger conversations. And the best part - they take much lesser time to conclude than your energy sapping ones!