Volume 10, January 2002: Meetings

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2001 ISSN # 1545-8873

“(D)ialogue of discovery is where you speak so that you can hear … you don’t merely exchange views with others; rather, you change your own views.” — Howard & Barton, Thinking Together

“The circle is the fundamental geometry of open human communication.” — Harrison Owen, Open Space Technology

“In times of change, all norms and customs that people count on are stripped away. Communication fills that gap.” — Tim Cohen, Consultant


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

Using New Meeting Formats:

  • Ask Me Meetings: Basic Q&A.
  • CEO Viewpoint Sessions: Allows groups of employees to to voice concerns, raise questions and share ideas with the CEO.
  • Greenhouse Meetings: Tackle difficult problems and come up with innovative solutions that managers are responsible for implementing.
  • Marathon Meetings: Keeping participants at the meeting until a decision is reached.
  • Problem-finding Meetings: The only agenda is to identify issues and problems, not solve them.
  • Results Review Meetings: Conclusions are drawn and plans made from review of data.
  • Sound off Meetings: Participants vent their feelings, with the guidelines: no name calling, participation by all, listening to others and acceptance of others’ feelings.
  • Whine and Cheese Party: A Sound Off with a festive flair. Additional guideline is that after the party, no more whining.
  • Vertical Meetings: Held with no chairs.
  • 10-10: A format made famous by Logansport Memorial Hospital. A vertical meeting held for 10 minutes every Tuesday at 10 o’clock to update all managers.
  • Walking Meetings: Meetings on the hoof. People are more creative standing and moving.
  • Workout Meetings: Made popular by Jack Welch, these sessions evaluate organizational practices and aim to eliminate unnecessary work.
  • Brag Sessions: A forum for handing out public kudos and accolades.
  • Grapevine Sessions: Regular, open meetings where items from the rumor mill are discussed.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Chances are good that you will find your professional life glutted with meetings. This may be true for your entire organization. We have a tendency to layer initiatives and never take anything away, in our work. So clean up: conduct an audit of every committee, task force and convention of people. Ask:

  • What is the aim of the meeting?
  • What does it produce and for whom (i.e., who is the customer)?
  • What is the minimum membership that could produce that?
  • Talk to the customer. Do they use the output? What do they really need?
  • Consider meeting input through other means. Virtual meetings, guest appearances, quick conferences.

If the meeting doesn't have a purpose, an output and a customer, put it to rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

“What do you do with interruptions, when people are all talking in the meeting at the same time?”
Use a variation of the Native American Talking Stick. No one can speak unless they are holding the real or imaginary object. If it’s a large group, tape off a square on the floor, and name it the Speakers’ Platform. You have to stand there to be heard.
“We never start on time and have to deal with stragglers. Ideas?”
Begin on time anyway, but be sure and schedule meetings with transit time. There was a reason for the “10 after” start time in college classes. One CEO charged his staff a dollar a minute for lateness, and at Christmas time, they chose a charity to give it to. Being on time might be part of the Ground Rules (I prefer Working Agreement) set early on by the group.
“Our meetings don’t accomplish anything.”
Be sure you need this meeting (see “Maintaining Yourself as a Leader” above). If so, have a clearly stated aim, and an agenda that supports that objective – complete with tools and times to accomplish each agenda item. Get buy-in up front that (a) this is what the group believes they are there to do and (b) they support the use of this agenda to get them there. Evaluate the productivity and other meeting components at the end.


Making Your Meetings Matter, Belmont University, February 4 or June 6, 2002, 615-460-5554.

Value-added vs. Non-value-added Meetings, a half-day onsite workshop to teach meeting skills. Contact Key Associates.

Lois B. Hart. Faultless Facilitation (2nd ed.) A workshop in a binder to teach the key skills for leading productive meetings

Videos on Meeting Skills and Consensus Decision-Making Tools..

Useful Websites & Newsletters

3M Meeting Network is full of information to make your meetings effective and successful.

To schedule meetings, reserve rooms, and round up resources, Meetingmaker not only eliminates the frustration of phone and email tag, it frees up everyone’s time without tying up your IT infrastructure.

Or try EZBook for scheduling:

  • conference rooms
  • parking spaces
  • audio-visual equipment
  • employee assignments

Free for 15 days, try Meeting Rooms Online service.

Use The Writing Works as a resource for ideas on meeting themes, scripts, and concept outlines for larger meetings.


  • Beckhard, Richard & Pritchard, Wendy. Changing the Essence: The Art of Creativity and Leading Fundamental Change in Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
  • Bell, Arthur H. Mastering the Meeting Maze. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1990.
  • Carnes, William T. Effective Meetings for Busy People: Let’s Decide and Go Home. NY: IEEE Press, 1987.
  • Doyle, Michael and Straus, David. How to Make Meetings Work. Wyden Books, 1976.
  • Executive Learning, Inc. Continual Improvement Handbook. Brentwood, TN: ELI, 1993.
  • Howard, V.A. & Barton, J.H. Thinking Together: Making Meetings Work. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1986.
  • Kriegel, Robert J. & Patter, Louis. If It Ain’t Broke … Break It! New York: Warner, 1991.
  • Leevov, Wendy & Scott, Gail. Health Care Mangers in Transition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.
  • Mina, Eli. The Complete Handbook of Business Meetings. NY: Amacom Press, 2000.
  • O’Donnell, Randall L. Nurturing Leadership. Little Rock: August House, 1992.
  • Owen, Harrison. Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1997.
  • Palmer, Barbara C. & Palmer, Kenneth R. The Successful Meeting Master Guide.Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1983.
  • Rees, Fran. How to Lead Work Teams. San Diego: Pfieffer, 1991.
  • Sholtes, Peter. The Team Handbook. Madison, WI: Joiner, 1988.
  • Tortorice, Donald A. The Modern Rules of Order: A Guide for Conducting Business Meetings. Chicago: American Bar Association, 1999.


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