Meeting Value

Monday, July 01, 2013

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner runs meetings in a radically different way than I have ever seen or heard of:

At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content. [bold in original]
Weiner notes that meetings at LinkedIn start off with five to ten minutes of time for attendees to familiarize themselves with or review the background information. This practice, along with a few other rules, has resulted in shorter, more useful meetings. (e.g., "Define the objective of the meeting.")

I was impressed with the kind of thinking behind Weiner's meeting protocol. He neither takes the way meetings are usually run as a given nor buys into any number of faddish ways (like making everyone stand) to remedy the problem. Rather, he asks what meetings are for and how they can better achieve that purpose.

It follows from Weiner's thinking that the best way to use what he has learned is not to ban all presentations all the time, but to include them, perhaps in modified form, when it is clear that one is needed or desirable. If the purpose of a meeting is to help a team get up to speed on new data or a new method, it could well be that some of the background information cannot be adequately conveyed by written material alone. Also, a roomful of people watching, say, a demo video, all at slightly different times on their laptops or tablets would be less useful than simply having everyone paying attention to a presenter at once. Weiner's insights should be applied, and not simply imitated.

I hate aimless, interminable meetings. I'll keep Weiner's advice in mind the next time I have the chance to run one or influence how one is run.

-- CAV

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