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The art of meeting

“How will the world be different tomorrow as a result of our meeting today? ” 

-Kathie Dannemillervia  quoted by Peter Block in Community 


“I hate meetings!”

“The only good meeting is a short meeting.”

“I would rather go to the dentist than to another meeting.”  

[Sidenote:  Please take no offense dentist friends, especially you Rick.  Just as people have an ungrounded fear of meetings, so they have an ungrounded fear of dentists]

I hear these statements so often that it hurts.  The reality is that I spend majority of my vocational time in meetings of one sort or another.  So I take pride in the what happens or does not happen in a meeting.

Here is my working definition of a meeting:

A meeting is a place where people come together for sharing, thinking, planning and doing something that can only be done together.  A meeting is where you realize the collective thought around the table is greater than smarts of one man or woman.  A meeting is a place where collective thought is formed, action is planned, and next steps are taken.  If these do not happen in some form or fashion then the likelihood of the world being different tomorrow is highly unlikely.

So here are some pointers for leading a good—NAY, a GREAT—


  1. Be intentional about how you use your time.  If you are facilitating the meeting, plan well, plan with purpose.  Think about where people are at emotionally when they come to the meeting.  How can you best engage them and hear the wisdom that they bring to the table.

  2. Do not be afraid of a disagreements.  Actually to run a great meeting you need to seek out the places of tension – some are spoken and some are unspoken.  Find the tension that needs to be exposed so that the whole team can deal with it. Do not let it remain in the room and not named.

  3. Listen more than you talk.  Ask questions and listen.  Listen to other people’s words. Listen to other’s body language.  Listen to what is being avoided and not said.

  4. Do not rush in with quick solutions for complex problems.  Some challenges are going to take time to fix.  Do not rush the process, allow the team to own it together.   Do not for the sake of time, offer up a band-aid when what needs to happen is surgery with a hospital stay to boot.

  5. Take good notes.  Write down the flow of the conversation.  Record what people say so that you can reference it.  So many good ideas and action points are lost because no one wrote them down.  Good notes allow you at the end of the meeting to review what you talked about, and review who is responsible for what by when.

Instead of hating meetings, a wise leader uses the space created by being together to help move the mission/vision of the organization forward. 

Friends, lead well in the art of meeting.

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