Mix up your meetings

Dr. Steven G. Rogelberg is a professor of organizational science, management, and psychology at UNC Charlotte and the author of The Surprising Science of Meetings. I’ll admit that when I first watched this short interview with Dan Pink, I initially dismissed Rogelberg’s three tips to make meetings more successful as being somewhere between impractical and silly. But I’ve since reconsidered and now realize that the overarching approach is one I agree with entirely. Just mix it up.

If your group has the same meeting on the same day and time in the same way every week, you’re sending a strong message: business as usual, same old thing, nothing to see here. How much good can we reasonably expect from that feeling? You’re a lot less likely to unlock original insight or new solutions to problems when every meeting is the same as the one before it and the one to come next.

Change the location. Ask people to write their proposals ahead of time. Serve interesting snacks. Act like a host and greet people. Have everyone stand. Schedule it for 48 minutes instead of an hour. Go around the room and ask everyone to share their highlight from the previous week. Do something different that surprises people, something that tells them this meeting won’t be the same as every other.

If it seems impractical or silly, I’d counter with this. Rogelberg says that there are 55 million meetings a day in the United States alone. How many of those attendees ever say, “That meeting was great!”?

You’ve got almost nothing to lose and the potential to gain a lot by mixing it up.