The story of the unicycling MC and other ways of avoiding purpose….

Meetings in large organisations fall into two categories – regular meetings and special meetings. Special meetings are usually driven by change – change in leadership, organisation, direction etc. When a special meeting is initiated there is usually great intention, but somehow along the way this gets lost.

What I see is, at the outset, the leader has the intention to drive change through a meeting. Once this decision is made then the following steps occur:

  1. Select a date
  2. Notify participants to hold the date
  3. Select an event organiser or administrator who will
  4. find and book a venue
  5. organise flights and transfers
  6. organise accommodation
  7. liaise with production if AV and lighting are needed
  8. find out about special requirements
  9. alongside all of this, participants in the meeting might offer to run sessions in the meeting

This all leads up to a point, usually quite close to the meeting, when someone goes ‘oh shit! what are we actually going to do in the meeting? There is  a list of random topics on an agenda and no robust design.’

At this point there are a number of ways organisations go:

  • Try to make the meeting engaging by organising something innovative or entertaining – like a unicycling MC! Yes is really know a company that did this! Completely bonkers eh!
  •  Try to engage people by adding some workshops.
  • Try to engage people by adding amazing technology to the meeting.

All of there are diversions away from the fundamental question of purpose. I find it alarming how much money gets spent on meetings, even during a recession, without clarity of purpose.

So, next time you are planning a special meeting, take time to clarify purpose  before step 1. Write it down, in bold, large typeface, at the top of every email about the meeting. If you don’t do this, you may as well hire a unicycling graphic recorder – like the one I have drawn below – mmm – maybe a new idea for Meeting Magic……..joke!