Everyone in the Conference Room, It’s Time for a Meeting

Meetings! I’ve been in some terribly long, terribly unproductive meetings before. I once had a supervisor who felt like he was only being productive when he was in a meeting so he’d drag me into them — replacing what could have been a short email into a 20-minute conference room meeting. I tried to explain that if I was always in meetings talking about what needed to get done, I wouldn’t actually be out getting anything done — but it did not compute.

Bloomberg Businessweek writes that Google Ventures has the secret to productive meetings and that secret is: egg timers.

As interventions go, it’s cheap. Knapp likes the $25 Time Timer, known in schools as the Magic Clock. It’s easy to set and read, and the amount of time remaining is clearly delineated in red. He first saw the device in his then-first-grade son’s classroom. “Oh, my God, this changes everything,” he recalls thinking. “I figured what worked for small children would probably work well for CEOs, too.”

So the most productive meetings I’ve been in have been in the following:

• Stand-up meetings: Startup culture loves these meetings in which team leads stand in a circle every morning and each say (1) What their team accomplished the previous day, (2) What they will accomplish today, and (3) If they have any problems that are preventing them from accomplishing anything. The entire meeting takes about 10 minutes, and then everyone goes to work on what they said they were going to work on.

• Friday end-of-the-week recaps: This meeting takes place at 4 p.m. on Friday, and everyone gathers into a room, and the boss goes over company performance and what lies ahead. Sometimes its good news, sometimes it’s bad news, but the meeting is productive because it gets everyone on the same page. Then after the meeting is over, since it’s the end of the day and it’s Friday we head to the bar.

How about you, any really good (or bad) meeting experiences?

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