Meeting Adversity

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jared Sandberg, Cubicle Culture columnist at The Wall Street Journal, talks about the good, the bad, and the refreshments, of meetings. Photographer Paul Shambroom looked at meetings in the public sphere when photographing local town council meetings. A survey of his work is out: Paul Shambroom: Picturing Power (Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, 2008).

Do people protest too much about meetings? What have you seen work to make meetings effective? Comment below.


Jared Sandberg and Paul Shambroom

Comments [7]


I've found that meetings can be enjoyable and productive if:

-- the scope is very limited and well defined.

-- the agenda is circulated in advance.

-- that there is a specific goal for the meeting (ie, define a project timeline, define a research topic list for each participant so project timeline can be defined in next meeting, etc.) so everybody is working toward the goal, and everybody leaves with something useful.

-- the meeting chair keeps everybody focused on the goal. (this usually requires quickly arranging to deal with worthwhile digressions outside the meeting.)

-- the meeting starts and ends on time.

-- minutes are circulated afterwards.

(running a meeting well is a skill. not easy to learn or apply IMHO.)

Apr. 14 2008 12:12 PM
Joan from Manhattan

I really like informative meetings (and I'm often one of the rare few who show up and stay longer than the coffee reception)!
My library work is a long series of lone, technical processing. Hearing the plans of the whole organization and having a better understanding of how my grunt work fits in to make a contribution was helpful to me. They made me feel appreciated and my work didn't feel so meaningless. :)

Apr. 14 2008 11:58 AM

The problem with most meetings is no one comes prepared and/or with a specific agenda of things that need to be accomplished. If people actually came with a goal, things could get accomplished.

Apr. 14 2008 11:55 AM
Robert from NYC

A good meeting? The ones without the people you don't like. Simple, no?
I told you I'm going mad.

Apr. 14 2008 11:54 AM
Laura from Chelsea, NYC

In my office, going to consultant meetings is a status symbol. the junior staff loves to send out e-mails to the entire office proclaiming they are important enough to be heading off to a meeting for 2 hours. hilarious.

Apr. 14 2008 11:54 AM

I've an inlaw who, a middle child between 2 extremely hard-willed siblings, is an expert at conflict negotiation. She also has worked as a meeting facilitator.

Having experienced her expertise, I would say the meeting facilitator is the crucial element here, someone who can sum up the issues, get down to business, reconcile any problems, and send everyone out to the next step/challenge.

Apr. 14 2008 11:53 AM
Betty Arce from Bronx, New York

I am retired but currently volunteering with a community group. We keep meetings to an hour, have a simple and focused agenda which we stick to, and start and end on time.

Apr. 14 2008 11:04 AM

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