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1 What is a meeting? > Why hold meetings? - Pg. 7

7 What is a Meeting? and expertise. People should be voicing different opinions; why else hold the conversation? But the group also needs discipline in the meeting. We should be thinking together: we should know the reason for meeting, the kind of thinking we should be doing at any point, and what we hope to achieve. And we each have a responsibility to help the group think together. Why hold meetings? The final part of our definition includes that word `purposefully'. A meeting is a conversation with objectives. How many meetings are held out of habit or with no clear sense of purpose? Too often, we walk away from a meeting wondering why we met. If we want to improve the quality of our meetings, we must start with a better sense of why we want to hold meetings at all. Establishing a clear reason for meeting is the first step towards success. So what's the best reason for holding a meeting? The simple answer is: `when the task requires a group of people to think about it.' If the task does not need a group of people to complete it, then a meeting should be unnecessary. The most obvious task that doesn't need a group to complete it is the delivery of information. Those briefings in which senior managers gather the staff together to announce the latest decree ­ or in which middle managers are called up to `cascade' information from senior levels downwards ­ are among the most ineffective meetings. Information presented in this way is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten. There is some evidence that `team briefings' of this kind are on the wane. `People are finally starting to realise', says john McDermott, a consultant based in Santa Fe, `that meetings are not the best tool for one-way info dissemination. Unless there is the need or desire for interaction, a meeting can often be replaced by a memo, video or intranet document posting.'