I’m just preparing for a meeting and I found a couple of fragments in my notebook that I think are from the (now defunct) Startup Daily. I’ll reproduce them here – if someone wants to claim ownership please do and I’ll delete them and link to the original!
The Only Two Reasons to Hold A Meeting
Conflict and coordination are the only two activities worth convening for.
Meetings are the perfect platform for healthy conflict. After a preliminary decision is made, meetings can be used to allow team members to raise objections and offer differing opinions. Dissent should be encouraged in this type of meeting. If a strong enough case is made, the decision maker should be prepared to update the decision.
The coordination of effort can be tricky, especially when there are many stakeholders and moving parts. Meetings are the ideal platform for this type of detailed problem solving.
Meetings Are Not the Right Platform for Making Decisions Final decisions are not made by a groups, they are made by individuals. Ultimately the individual must be held accountable for those decisions and responsible for the outcomes.
Although meetings are a great place to debate decisions and coordinate the details of execution, the decisions themselves should always be made by individuals.
The Cure for Boring Meetings
Meetings should not be boring. A meeting is a group of people coming together to have an interactive discussion about a topic that is relevant to their lives. With these ingredients, meetings have no business being boring.
The reason most meetings are so boring is because many people have developed the habit of immediately eliminating conflict wherever it appears.
To Keep Meetings Interesting, Provoke Conflict
As storytellers have known for thousands of years, conflict is the essence of drama, and the key to an engaging story. If you have no conflict, you will have no engagement.
The leader of a meeting must seek out disagreements and uncover dissent. There will be uncomfortable moments. But resolving these issues in the open is what makes a meeting productive and interesting. Suppressing conflict only leads to disengagement and frustration.
One of the most powerful ways to set the stage for an engaging meeting is to start with a hook. Highlight a competitive threat or illustrate a danger in the first ten minutes.
The only thing more painful than confronting an uncomfortable topic is pretending it doesn’t exist.