Why more meetings should be like a Macworld keynote, and how a wiki can help

Ideally, every meeting should strive to be like a Macworld Keynote. It should take place only as often as necessary, involve something really important to discuss, and leave people charged up and motivated. Let’s look at how you can make this happen using a wiki and Chris Brogan’s 3 meeting types: announcement, status, & brainstorming.

Announcement Meeting:

“An ANNOUNCEMENT meeting should be super fast, and is reserved for announcements that you want to make in person to the team.”

If you use your wiki to blog internally, as we do at Atlassian, then post the announcement on the wiki. You could even do this before the meeting itself to gather feedback and questions which you can then address at the meeting.

This doesn’t necessarily make the announcement meeting redundant. It’s still good to have the meeting to make sure everyone gets the news and questions are answered. The wiki can help make sure that relevant questions are gathered and answered.

Status Meeting

A STATUS meeting should be reasonably quick, and it’s a chance for all teams to be heard from. However, it’s not for discussion. Instead, the project manager calling the meeting (and at a startup, lots of people get to play project manager) should have gone around ahead of the meeting to get the status. Get all the conversation out of people by hearing them fully OUTSIDE the meeting.

There’s an obvious wiki application here. Everyone on the team should be keeping track of their status on a wiki. That enables the project manager – and everyone else on the team – to monitor progress. When the status meeting takes place, it should be focused mostly on informing people outside the team or project.

This meeting type is also one where I might disagree with Chris. If a team is keeping track of project progress on a wiki, then status meetings within the team shouldn’t really be needed at all, and the focus should mostly be on Brainstorming meetings.

Brainstorming Meeting

A BRAINSTORMING meeting is probably the most open-ended and least simple to run. In these meetings, you’re asking people together to discuss open-ended futures. This should be clearly announced at the beginning of the meeting (as well as in the invite), so that people know it’s going to be a conversation and not a quick in-and-out.

The best use of a wiki here is to publish the draft agenda on a wiki, and ask for input from everyone who has a stake in the project. It helps identify the areas people already agree on, and separate those from the issues & ideas that need more discussion in the meeting.

For all 3 meeting types:

During the meeting, have participants collaboratively record minutes and notes. This is much better than the traditional scenario where one person is assigned to keep minutes and furiously scrambles to jot down everything. If everyone contributes to the minutes, they’ll be more comprehensive and better reflect various viewpoints expressed in the meeting.

After the meeting, encourage people to make sure the minutes are accurate, and refine them as needed. Also, encourage people to leave comments and questions, and make sure to respond.

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