Blog > A great meeting? Oxymoron?

November 27, 2009

Teddy BearI took part in a great meeting today. True!

And I’m not good at meetings. Usually. They drain my energy, leaving me feeling as though I’ve lost something. Just between you and me, I struggle to be ‘good’ at meetings. I have even been known to exhibit all the behaviours I most dislike in workshop participants (and maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this).

This meeting left me feeling energised.

So what made it different?

1. We threw away the agenda and had a series of questions to generate discussion.

2. We huddled (instead of making ‘camp’ – thanks to David Robinson for this description). Making ‘camp’ means that you select a seat and spread your stuff to claim your space. In this meeting, I invited (well, no, that’s not true, I just made it an instruction) to leave all of our books and ‘stuff’ behind and sit as a tighter group up one end of one of those terrible long board tables.

3. We kept a record of our discussion using flip chart paper in the centre of the table (not up on the wall that would have created a further disconnect) making mind maps. Oh, and I also played with my new toy – the LiveScribe pen that records the conversations. Makes it easy to go back to later.

4. We invited another in who wasn’t in the room, using skype and a Mac laptop with a multi-directional screen so that his face (enlarged to fill the whole screen) was visible to all participants. Not only was he not in the room, he was on another continent and in a very different time zone, but was still an integral part of the meeting. The lap top was on the table, not projected onto a screen so that we could maintain the intimacy that encourages open discussion.

5. We kept to time. We agreed on a one hour discussion, then a break and then further discussion, until 15 minutes were left to quickly discuss some ‘business’ and we finished on time. Incidently, I discovered that the LiveScribe pen facilitates this by providing a discreet way of keeping track of how long we’d been talking.

Lots of lessons here for everyday meetings. Thankfully I don’t have to do this every day, and for those that you do, maybe some ideas to make them more, well, bearable?

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