I recently attended a seminar called, “Meetings Suck,” given by Cameron Herold, the author of the book with the same name. I wasn’t sure what to expect based on the name of this session alone, but needless to say I was interested to hear what he had to say.

The seminar covered some informative techniques for running more effective and efficient meetings that can be easily implemented. Some highlights included:

  • “No agenda, no attenda.” Cameron’s catchphrase and one of my favorite takeaways. He recommends including the purpose of the meeting in the invitation notes. It seems obvious but more times than not, I get meeting invites without any explanation of what will be covered. How can you be prepared without knowing what will be covered?
  • Time management. Have a designated time keeper and end meetings 5 minutes early. How many times have you had back-to-back meetings scheduled, only to be late to your second meeting, or been a participant in a meeting waiting for someone coming from another meeting?
  • Get more done with less people. Stop feeling bad about not inviting people to a meeting. Only invite people whose attendance and input is imperative to the purpose of the meeting (see above). On the flipside, it allows people invited to decline if they can’t contribute or benefit from attending.
  • Put it in the parking lot. No, not an actual parking lot, but a list of off-topic tangents to be addressed after the meeting at hand. To stay focused and on-time (again, see points above), it’s necessary to curb conversations that might derail the entire purpose of the meeting.
  • Recap and responsibilities. Before a meeting ends, be sure to recap what was covered and who’s doing what by when. This ensures that your follow-up meetings will be productive.

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This got me thinking about what else makes “meetings suck.” It’s not always attendees or lack of agenda.

If you have a distributed workforce or remote employees, a major culprit can be presence disparity, which is the lack of connectedness people experience in meetings when they are working remotely. While video conferencing can help, it still limits collaboration for those not physically present. There are several workplace applications that can help. V.I.A. by Steelcase is a demountable wall solution that elegantly hosts technology right in the wall and features integrated LED lighting to illuminate faces evenly.  The media:scape TeamStudio by Steelcase adds a split stool-height table to allow easy movement around the room while whiteboarding, and keeps all users at camera-level. Microsoft Surface Hub helps alleviate presence disparity by combining HD video conferencing, whiteboarding and content sharing so that even remote participants can easily share and annotate content, at eye level with in-room contributors.

One struggle is scheduling a meeting but having nowhere to hold it, or not having a room with the proper technology. Sometimes meetings have sensitive content and can’t be held in the open. Other times meetings require a room with audio and video conferencing. RoomWizard by Steelcase is a web-based scheduling system that allows you to book rooms within your office. It’s much more effective than first-come-first-serve so your people can make the most out of their time and collaborative spaces.

Another common meeting pain point is uncomfortable chairs. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a meeting where you’re constantly shifting to try to get comfortable—whether the chair juts into your upper back or the front seat edge cuts off leg circulation. QiVi by Steelcase offers the perfect seating solution for meetings and conference rooms. An ergonomic chair that encourages movement and changing postures, Qivi has a pivoting backrest and gliding seat that naturally adjust as your body moves.

We’ve all attended meetings and thought afterwards that there was room for improvement. Hopefully these tips and technology products will help you host better and more productive meetings going forward!


Microsoft Surface HubMicrosoft Surface Hub collaborative technology
Steelcase media:scape TeamStudio with V.I.A. demountable walls and RoomWizard scheduling systemmedia:scape TeamStudio with V.IA. and RoomWizard
Steelcase Qivi chairs, V.I.A. demountable walls and RoomWizard scheduling systemmedia:scape with Qivi chairs, V.IA. and RoomWizard

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