How to recognize different meeting types to increase your productivity?

recognize different meeting types

ssssscrape, knock-knock-knock

I got a Slack message from Peter again!

Peter: “Hey Wendy, do you have time to continue our discussion from last time about the 4 types of meetings?”

Me (Wendy): “Sure. Remember last time I told you I had to run? I met with Bob and we brainstormed for the next product iteration.”

Peter: “Oh! So, that’s the “brainstorm” type of meeting that you mentioned, right? That when you have to work with someone and combine your efforts together, then you schedule a meeting?”

Me: “That’s right. In this case, before Bob and I got together, we brainstormed on our own. We then finished the brainstorm together, sharing and riffing on each other’s ideas to come up with something better. This way, we include each of our points of view. Our face-to-face time was less compared to before, because we worked asynchronously by ourselves before meeting.”

Peter: “Oh, so you split the meeting into two then – one on your own, and the other one collaborating  with someone.”

Me: “Exactly. This way, the shortened meeting actually focuses on the work that we need to do together, not the part we do individually. It forces us to be more prepared and that saves us time in the long run.”

Peter: “That’s nice! But how are we going to make sure people adopt this pattern? I wouldn’t have thought of that because that’s not what I’m used to doing.”

Me: “It’s definitely a change in thinking. People will need time to adjust. We also need to learn new skills, called remote facilitation. Let’s discuss that after we finish talking about the 4 types of meetings.”

Peter: “Remote facilitation? What’s that? Ok, let’s finish the 4 types of meetings first, then I want to come back to this new skill that you just mentioned.”

Me: “Sure. So far, we have already tried (and succeeded) not needing a meeting to share or gather information (type 1), we also tried (and succeeded) not needing a meeting to make a decision (type 2) or dividing the decision making meeting into information gathering (done asynchronously), and only meet to discuss and make final decision. I also told you about my brainstorm with Bob (type 4), so let’s talk about the remaining type: collaborate to work out a problem.”

Peter: “Ok. I would think we need to meet to collaborate with people, right?”

Me: “For working sessions, yes. Collaboration is when people come together to work out a problem. Brainstorming is another type of collaboration. Bob and I asynchronously “did our own part” before “coming together” which is our working session. Does that make sense?”

Peter: “Yes. I think I get it, but that’s a very different way of viewing meetings. I’m not used to dissecting meetings like that. People will need help to shift their mindsets. You’re going to teach them, right? 🙂 “

Sigh… guess I need to teach folks the different meeting types and how to know what truly warrants a synchronous meeting. Come back next time and see how I fare.

In the meantime, you can see all the articles I’ve written on the subject on meetings.

Read the rest of Wendy’s story here:

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