A brilliant, creative session emerged from Comms Unplugged’s Vent Tent workshop, at the annual comms person’s retreat in beautiful Dorset. A lot of ideas were generated but one really did stick in my head.
by Darren Caveney
The session deliberately had no agenda and was set up for attendees to talk about whatever was on their mind.
A lot of issues and pressures flowed.
My number one take from this workshop, the event itself – and my work with teams and individuals this year – is the pile-on of work demand. It’s huge. And it’s being made worse by the epidemic in emails and particularly meetings.
You’ve all seen the stats on how the number of meetings we attend/are invited to each day has grown significantly since we all switched to a majority of them happening over Zoom, Team, Google Meet and whatever platform you prefer.
We already knew this, of course. But hearing personal accounts of the toll meeting overload was having on people’s work and mental health was striking.
And the message is simple.
We must all reduce the amount of meetings we attend.
It’s in danger of making us ill and killing our creativity.
Ideas and tech settings exist for 25 and 55 minute meetings to allow a short break in between but five minutes here and there to run to the loo and make a fresh drink isn’t going to cut anyone’s mustard.
There are good meetings and bad meetings. Some will be well facilitated, others less so. Many are too long. And sometimes we may be responsible for that as we have enjoyed chatting to someone from our isolated virtual worlds and homes.
Bruce Daisley was the Comms Unplugged keynote speaker and he talked about where good ideas come from. It turns out that meetings churned out a paltry 3% of them. That’s pretty sobering isn’t it.
We had the usual conversation about how we qualify meeting requests, select the ones we must be at, give apologies to those we need to skip to do our jobs.
Not a new idea. I remember suggesting ‘meeting-free Fridays’ at an employer years ago. I was laughed out of town. I still think it’s a good idea.
Because for sure, rolling in and out of 7-8 meetings a day, five days a week, will see comms pros totting up a very large to do list with little regular free time left to actively do the work, never mind plan it, research it, trial ideas, develop and refine and then launch it.
One of the attendees, Sam Phillips, had a genius idea.
Over to Sam…
“I was there. I suggested Air BnB style reviews for meetings, which was on the back of someone else (can’t remember who, sorry!) suggesting rating the quality of the meeting in the same way Teams ask you to rate the quality of a call.
From that flowed other ideas about rating meetings – and the funny idea that you would then be given links to ‘other meetings you might like’
I love it.
So, in my head this idea merged into Trip Advisor-style ratings where you score meetings out of 5 and leave comments for other invitees to consider before attending.
It would be rather immense feedback to the meeting organisers and chairs in the spirit of improvement.
Could this take off?
Well it might go down about as well as my idea for meeting-free Fridays all those years ago.
But, someone somewhere could try it. Maybe someone already is? If so I would love to hear more.
As an idea I think it has legs. With something having to give I think we communicators need to be brave and look to trial this idea. Maybe we start with our own meetings, and then build from there?
Who is with me?
Darren Caveney is creator and owner of comms2point0 and creative communicators ltd
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