• Tom Lombardo

Intimate Meetings, Held Remotely

With so many office workers working remotely these days, business owners and managers have no choice but to turn to online tools to keep their enterprises going. A lot use Microsoft Teams, which is great, and a lot use Zoom.

But even in "the good old days" when people could all get together in a physical room, meetings didn't work. Seventy percent of people thought they were a waste of time and nearly four out of five didn't understand what was going on or how it applied to them.


Meetings Suck


All meetings, everywhere, for centuries, have had serious problems. These problems can't be solved just by sitting across a table, and they don't get worse just because you're meeting online.


They can only be solved by rethinking the way you organize your meetings. There are several parts to this rethink, and we'll cover all of them in detail in this blog. One of the main ones is making sure that everyone prepares for the meeting properly.


Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has the leader of each meeting circulate a detailed memo, no more than six pages long, which everyone reads carefully at the beginning of the meeting. That way, everyone knows exactly what will be discussed, why it's being discussed, and what decisions need to be made.


We call that "pre-population" and it works so well that Bezos even mentioned it in an investor letter. Pre-population can be used in several other creative ways to make sure your meetings are not only focused but also healthy for your team and their cooperation.


Productivity and Proximity


Without pre-population, people often show up at a meeting without a clear understanding of its purpose. They can even be fearful of being called on, because they won't be prepared with an accurate and complete answer. This can make meetings seem either pointless or confrontational, or both, which completely undermines the sense of purpose and community you want your meetings to create.


People also have a natural tendency to wonder if others are working as hard as they are.

Pre-population, focused on follow-up, where everyone gets a chance to report on their progress, lets people know that everyone is contributing. No matter where someone is on a given day, their progress is really all that matters.


If you eliminate the mystery of what others are doing, and eliminate the mystery of what the meeting is supposed to accomplish, you will make your meetings far more effective and productive.


Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash