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My takeaway

Remember that meetings should add value by providing a sense of progress. Design your meetings to support the working memory of the attendees—people need time afterwards to materialize the discussion, and to make a plan. Preparing for this will improve your meetings.

My notes

These are my informal notes from Meeting Design. It contains a mix of key highlights as well as my own thoughts and lessons.

  • With the responsibility of management comes the power to call meetings, and it’s a power that’s easy to abuse.
  • Design is an intangible currency that separates things that matter from junk.
  • The problem is that meetings aren’t considered in the same way that designers consider problems they are trying to solve. That’s what “designing a meeting” is all about: thinking about your meetings as though you were a designer.
  • When you get busy, your calendar is littered with recurring team meetings, also known as standing meetings or check-ins. They are the mosquitoes of meetings.
  • You should always have two questions in the back of your mind: “Why did you establish this meeting?” “Has that job been done?”
  • Meetings should add value to your life by providing a sense of progress—problems being defined, decisions getting made, priorities being prioritized, and solutions being built upon the benefit of multiple perspectives.
  • A regular meeting is an expensive way to solve a vague problem, because meetings cost as much as everyone’s combined paycheck for the allotted time.
  • Without questioning (and measuring) performance, standing meetings fall into autopilot, or worse, disrepair.
  • Identify the problem that the meeting is intended to solve and research the problem before committing to a meeting.
  • A meeting is something that enables us to achieve an outcome that we can’t otherwise achieve without it, measured in an agreed-upon fashion.
  • Designing meeting experiences to support the working memory of attendees will improve meetings.
  • When what you hear and what you see compete, it creates cognitive dissonance. Listening to someone speaking while reading the same words on a screen actually decreases the ability to commit something to memory.
  • Your memory should transform ideas absorbed in meetings into taking an action of some kind afterward. Triggering intermediate-term memories is the secret to making that happen.
  • A well-designed meeting experience moves the right information from working to intermediate memory.
  • Ideas generated and decisions made should materialize into actions that take place outside the meeting.
  • A meeting is a system that facilitates knowledge input and output while having the potential to create new perspectives at the same time.
  • It’s good to stay flexible about agendas, but important to be crystal clear about the three core elements of agenda building: ideas, people, and time.
  • A meeting is a tool. Like any other tool, meetings can be well designed or poorly designed, based on how well they achieve intended outcomes while managing constraints.