It’s funny how sometimes in our culture people can get really down on meetings, saying they’re “not productive”, “don’t allow people to get real work done” or even are “a waste of time.” While there likely are meetings going on in the world that do fit these negative descriptions, I still believe that some meetings are very necessary, relevant and worth making time for when they build relationships, result in clarity and focus for the project at hand and save time overall. Here are two examples of meetings that I’ve been involved in recently that were just so:
Scenario 1: Meeting to develop learning outcomes for an online course
Two individuals from the same client organization and I met to discuss some content that they were currently teaching in a face to face mode. They wanted to turn their various small workshops into a pulled-together online course that would take place over a number of weeks. During our two-hour meeting I was able to help guide and focus their ideas in order to create learning outcomes together for the online course. The clients had never written learning outcomes before for their face to face workshops and I could visibly see their excitement when we got them all down on “paper” – (actually we happened to be using Google Drive on a big screen, but still). It helped bring their vision alive.
Meeting like this in person for a focused period of time began our relationship together, got us all on the same page and paved a clear way forward for our project.
Scenario 2: Meeting to develop an agenda for a focus group with stakeholders
A client and I met to brainstorm the agenda for a focus group that the client wanted us to carry out with project stakeholders. In just two hours she and I were able to clarify the overall project goal, identify the goal for the focus group session, hone the “solution” to the goal that we would present to the group for their consideration, develop the agenda for the session and talk about what we would do in the session if our proposed solution was not on target with what the group wanted. I left the session with concrete notes and photos (of our whiteboard visualizations) which were easy to type up into a concrete lesson plan shortly thereafter and send to the client.
Meeting like this in person saved time overall (ie. no going back and forth on ideas over email) and allowed us to “put two heads together” to create a great plan for the upcoming focus group.
At the end of both of these meetings I was energized and felt that I’d just spent some very productive time with each of the clients involved. As much as I’m a fan of working online and the flexibility that it affords, I’m still very much a proponent of face to face learning and collaboration – especially to start off a project. I really do believe in an upside to meetings!