Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding why we meet, part of Project Management Foundations: Communication.
The governor of New York changed the name of his meeting to summits. You can't blame him. The recent meeting he had with the dairy farmers in the state was called the yogurt summit. That sounds a lot more interesting than the annual New York state dairy farmer's meeting. This is a trend with meetings, many meetings are no longer called meetings. They're called briefings, innovation circles or executive overviews. But most of these are just the same meeting, they're the standard conference meeting. There are usually three types of business meetings.
The standard conference meeting, a work group meeting and a brainstorming meeting. If you want something more than the standard conference meeting you need to work to create the agenda for one of these other two types. The standard conference meetings are what most people think about when they think of meetings. It's usually one person presenting slides on a particular topic. You'll know when you're at a standard conference meeting. This meeting will have five or more people with one presenter. Conference meetings are the default meetings.
If you're at a meeting with more than five people then chances are you're in a conference meeting. These are the meetings designed to get everybody on the same page, or to let everybody know what's going on. Conference meetings are an efficiency drain on organizations. They usually aren't informative. Most studies find that meetings don't do a good job informing the audience. Conference meetings aren't efficient. Most of the people who attend meetings are managers and expensive to hire. Finally, conference meetings usually aren't helpful.
Most managers point out these meetings as a drain on their time. Even as efficiency experts squeeze more and more out of organizations, the conference meeting pretty much endures in the same way it has for decades. Most businesses still have conference meetings because they're tribal. They're a good opportunity to interact with your coworkers. These meetings are a good format to build networks, so a supervisor that points out an employee's work is an important business practice.
Conference meetings also cement your place in the organization. If you're the assistant sales manager for the east coast, you can tell a lot about your place in the organization. Finally, conference meetings are often the only way to meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet. But if you want to have a meeting that's not a conference meeting, you have to be careful. If you do not set the agenda then your meeting will always revert into a conference meeting. If this is not what you want then you have to create a different agenda and rename your meeting.
If you want to have a smaller and more efficient meeting you should have a work group meeting. A work group meeting should have a maximum of five people. This seems to be the magic number where people can still collaborate effectively. The meeting is designed to solve a discrete problem. The typical work group meeting has three to five people. The agenda might be something like figuring out why the server keeps crashing. It also might have a supervisor and manager discussing why one of their employees are under-performing. Work group meetings can be scheduled or unscheduled.
They usually take the least time of all the meetings. The final type of meeting is the brainstorming meeting. A brainstorming meeting is the most difficult to organize of the three types of meetings. This is a meeting with a maximum of seven people. That's enough to get a diversity of viewpoints but still not so much that the meeting splits into separate groups. In this meeting everyone tries to come up with a new idea. These are very challenging meetings to run. They usually do best with one facilitator who asks a question of the group.
True brainstorming meetings are very rare. When NASA launched the Apollo 13 rocket to the moon there was a dangerous explosion aboard the space capsule, so they gathered all the top engineers into one room. The facilitator dumped a box of space capsule equipment onto the table. He then asked the engineers to figure out how to turn this equipment into a way to save the crew. This was a brainstorming meeting. The facilitator asked a question and everyone came up with a new idea. Most brainstorming meetings are not so high stakes, but they can still be very important meetings and they can have great ideas.
If you are a meeting organizer be sure to understand what type of meeting you want to hold. If you want a conference meeting then you should present on a topic. You should also allow everyone else to present employee's work and create networks. If you want a work group meeting make sure there are fewer than five people invited. If you want a brainstorming meeting make sure that you are the facilitator and that you ask questions of the group. It matters what you call your meeting. You might not want to be like the governor and call every meeting a summit, but you should name your meeting in a way that communicates the agenda.
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- Using formal and informal means to communicate
- Prioritizing stakeholder needs
- Listening actively
- Planning project communication
- Understanding leadership language
- Writing clear and concise project reports
- Learning how and when to say "no"<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.