Everyone seems to have it in for meetings – so I thought I would stand up for them. No-one else seems to want to.
Yes, I know we have all have had a bad meeting experience – one where someone has dominated the windowless room and nothing has apparently been achieved. However, meetings still have in important part to play – but like any other business tool they can be badly used.
In research carried out for Herman Miller by Nigel Oseland meeting rooms were still the preferred places for sharing information as well as making decisions. The challenge is to make sure the spaces work for the meetings and those running the meeting know what they’re doing.
Nigel’s research showed what really matters to people in a meeting room – availability being the most important requirement. You can download the summary paper from Nigel’s report here
“While the facilitator could be the person who called the meeting, the right skill set and personality are more important than the person’s title or rank.” I took this quote from another Herman Miller Paper “Why and How we meet” – where it also observed that “The preliminary findings of a Herman Miller study show that, on average, conference rooms are only being used 30% of the time they are available.” This surely has to change.
Meetings and meeting rooms aren’t dead – they just need to be better designed. I will leave you with this insight from the “Why and How we meet” paper.
The biggest predictor that a meeting will go smoothly, however, is how prepared the leader is—how well she’s thought through and communicated the purpose of the meeting and her expectations for how others will prepare for the meeting before it even begins. For a meeting in which information will be exchanged, a prepared leader will ask:
– What is the meeting’s purpose? What do you hope to achieve?
– Is a meeting the best way to achieve the purpose, or is there another way? If the purpose is simply to share information, e-mail may be sufficient. If you want to share information and reinforce corporate culture or make sure the attendees understand how the work ties into the direction of the company, a meeting is best.
– Who needs to attend the meeting in order for the purpose to be achieved?Who is the decision-maker?
– What are the expectations about how attendees should prepare for the meeting ahead of time and participate during it?
– What should be on the agenda, and how much time should be allotted for each item?