What makes a good meeting?

Autumn Light Queen's Park Toowoomba
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Another from the archives and my feelings about meetings haven’t changed. One of the things I don’t miss about university life is the endless round of meetings, poorly prepared for in most instances, and time-wasting. We’ve come a long way in thinking about how to be more productive of time and effort since then. These days a standing meeting, a 10-minute meeting, a meeting where individuals are allowed only a minute or two, and even the use of a rubber chicken – it’s tossed on the table if the speaker rambles or is boring. Now, I could have used that rubber chicken all those years ago. These days I avoid meetings like the plague.

Stocktaking at the end of the week yesterday, and I realised I had chaired or attended 12 meetings in 5 days. Now I know universities run on meetings, but this seemed a bit excessive. It’s when the stocktaking (aka weekly review) happens that you realise how sensible it is to be as productive as possible. I’m also on something of a one-woman mission to make meetings leaner and more productive; as time poor as we are, we can’t afford to sit around chewing the fat. Far too much fat gets masticated in corridor meetings anyway. OK, so much for the whinge, and it’s fair to say that some of these meetings were very good ones indeed.

IMHO the meetings that do work work around the format that characterises our theatre production meeting: a round-table, “paper production” where the heads of all departments within a production (the show) report on progress, share concerns, prioritise, and map out next actions. It’s chaired by a student Stage Manager, who is learning on the job. Good teaching and good GTD stuff this. Yesterday’s production meeting for a show in the upcoming SiQP Festival (Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival) was a model in this regard. Run to time, focussed, and with everyone prepared, we got lots of things through the pipeline and back into the workshop, rehearsal room, and into other meetings (inevitable, but that’s how it goes). So, left the week feeling the week had been a good one meetings-wise.

The other side of the week, and the light side, concerned work during the mornings in the rehearsal room on the show mentioned above, a compilation called Sonnets at Breakfast to be presented in Queen’s Park on March 11 in Toowoomba. Working with the creative energy of actors is a real charge to the system, and it certainly worked to dispel some of the meetings lethargy that had descended on my week.


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