How to Fix Meetings: A Satirical Guide
The No-Meeting Culture
We’ve covered a few companies that have instituted a no-meetings or at least very-few-meetings culture. Because let’s face it, who really wants to spend their precious time listening to Bob from accounting drone on about spreadsheets?
Shopify started with what it called “controlled chaos”: canceling all recurring meetings of three or more people, deleting needless Slack channels (goodbye #random), and instating “no-meeting Wednesdays” for all staff. It’s like Christmas every Wednesday!
To make the change less daunting, it was set up as a two-week trial period after which teams could add back any meetings they missed—because apparently some people actually enjoy them? Weird.
The Essential Meeting Makeover
If you decide to do a similar meeting audit (or if management forces it upon you), don’t worry—you’ll likely still have at least a handful of meetings that remain on your calendar. Then it’s just a matter of making those essential gatherings worthwhile.
Author Claire Hughes Johnson suggests using the acronym PAL as a guide for improving meetings:
- P = Purpose: Determine the purpose of the meeting and make sure everyone understands it. Or at least pretend like there is one.
- A = Agenda: Circulate the topics to be covered in service of that purpose so everyone can mentally check out ahead of time.
- L = Limit: Set guidelines for how long the meeting and agenda items will take because ain’t nobody got time for an endless discussion about office snacks.
Making Meetings More Inclusive (Because Everyone Loves Sharing)
The other essential ingredient for better meetings is making them more inclusive for those who might not feel comfortable sharing their ideas—like Karen from HR who always gets interrupted by Chad from sales.
There are lots of ways to go about this: The meeting organizer can poll attendees about questions in advance—a great way to ensure maximum eye rolls before even entering the room.
Similarly, participants can be encouraged send their thoughts in beforehand so they can be added directly into the recycling bin—I mean agenda.
Breaking into small groups or pairing introverts with extroverts means that someone else can present their ideas while Karen quietly seethes over her untouched latte.
Meetings will likely always be necessary evil part workplace culture but hey—with more thoughtful planning—they may become slightly less soul-crushing than usual.
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