I Hate Meetings
By Joan Eisenstodt
I hate most all meetings: staff, board, committee, conferences, conventions, seminars ….
Phew – that’s out of the way. Then again, it’s not a secret – it is something I’ve said for years. It’s because meetings all pretty much look and feel and sound the same.
This week, we’re going to look at meetings differently. We’re going to talk [which means I hope you will also get involved in the conversation] about different kinds of meetings, different learning and participation styles, peer-to-peer learning, and other methods of creating community.
I’m not the first one to write about these issue. I’ll reference others – Jeffrey Cufaude, Art Shostak, Sue Pelletier among them – as we talk this week. I’ll pose questions throughout for you to consider alone and with others with whom you plan meetings. This is not nor will it be a tutorial – this is an opportunity to begin to get your brain engaged in the process.
Your first day of our discussion is easy: take your hands off the keyboard, sit back, and close your eyes. If you have a ball or a “magic spring” or even a real Slinky ™, keep that in your hands to play – it will help stimulate your brain even with your eyes closed.
Envision the worst meetings in which you’ve been involved – we may as well get the “bad part” done now! Think about the elements that made the meetings bad: lack of or ignored goals and objectives? speakers who were uncomfortable in front of an audience? content and delivery of material that left you wondering if there was anything you could use? uncomfortable setting? While you do this remember to take deep breaths – you may experience an anxiety level that you don’t want and for which I am disclaiming that I warned you to be careful.
When you complete that part, open your eyes, shake your head and realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Now you can think about the BEST meetings in which you’ve been involved – planning, attending, experiencing, watching. Think about the elements that made these meetings great. Think about what you heard, felt, experienced – what you took away from the experience or watched others take away. What made these meetings so different?
Jot some notes down for yourself; consider sharing those thoughts among those reading this week’s MiGuru section. I’ll share more about thinking about meetings differently as we go through this.
Oh – an apology: as you do these exercises and we have these discussions, I am so sorry we are not face to face where I could provide some toys for you. Maybe get a few so that while you read, your hands can be engaged and your brain more actively involved.
A recommendation before we talk again: go to www.wfs.org and do a search on the name “Arthur Shostak.” Look for an article entitled “High Schools for Futurism” from November/December 2004. It will cost you $2.00 to purchase it to read. It’s worth every penny. Read at your leisure. You’ll want to keep it to stimulate thoughts and as a reference as we look differently at meetings this week.