Make them fizz! No, I’m not advocating cracking open the bubbly for every Tuesday morning meeting. I’m talking about the feeling that’s created in the room, the simple pleasure of meeting face to face, leaving with a smile on your face and a brain sparking with new ideas.
I recently read an article which argued the case for getting rid of meetings altogether because the company saw them as a waste of time, an unnecessary interruption; when emails, a call, a project management tool like Basecamp, or social media could be used instead. While I can appreciate some meetings are unnecessary; for new client meetings, discussions focused on creativity, or meetings orientated around problem solving, I really think they hold their value and it is time well spent. Without meetings we would miss out on these potential highlights of the working week:
Playing ‘Find the Person'
That uniquely awkward social moment, when you have to survey the room, earnestly scanning faces and trying to spot the one you are supposed to be meeting. I’m sure a lot of us will hands up admit to Googling the other person beforehand, hoping to find an up-to-date photo. Isn’t it surprising how many people use massively out of date profile photo’s, making playing ‘Find the Person’ just that little bit more challenging (and fun) as you accidentally ask the wrong person: “Hi, are you Andrew?"
When do you aim to arrive? Are you the 5 minutes early, get settled in with a coffee and notes/laptop out kind of person. Or, the rush-inside-in-a-flurry type, all bags, coat and flushed cheeks, muttering sincere apologies about traffic or parking? Either way, once you’ve both got settled in and the drinks are on their way, meeting in person creates a meaningful connection, more likely to lead to a better working relationship.
Drinks and paying etiquette
The British have always loved having chats over a cuppa and that tradition still holds true, with the average Brit drinking a staggering 876 cups of tea a year. There’s something about settling down with a crafted hot beverage for a proper discussion, that will always win over just a phone call. I suggest offering to pay, if they refuse make sure you get the drinks the next time.
Listen first, talk second
Meetings are brilliant for practicing listening skills, as well as talking (which most of us are very proficient at!) People love telling their story, talking about their background, career, or start-up tales and it’s a really good way for people to open up and share a little of themselves.
While not every meeting will end with a winning idea to pursue, I often find the practice of talking through concepts out loud, can reveal potential new avenues to explore, post-meeting. Would these ideas have cropped up on email or phone call? Possibly not. A few people together, voicing their ideas and opinions naturally sparks ideas in others. Some of the worlds greatest inventions have been created in the pubs and coffee shops of the UK.
A few more laughs in our working week are always welcome and meetings are potential places to find them. Laughing is a great way of putting people at ease and reducing tension, a good chuckle has been proven to: reduce stress levels, trigger the release of endorphins which make you feel good, produce a sense of well-being and it’s good for your cardiac health too. Bonus point: If you can have a laugh with someone, they are more likely to want to work with you in future, a win-win for both of you.
Real time, not screen time
On a more serious note, meetings offer us a welcome opportunity to wrestle our eyes away from screens, giving them a rest from the blue screens which can dominate waking hours and an optical exercise, all in one go.
Handshake, hug or kiss?
Judgement should be used here, the correct answer depends upon: how well you know this person, what industry they work in and how well the meeting has gone. In some industries (like fashion or beauty) a peck on the cheek greeting or goodbye is often the done thing.
If you’re meeting The Usual Studio here’s what’s likely to happen: I usually turn up 5 minutes early and you should be able to spot me because my LinkedIn photo is up-to-date. I’ll probably choose a flat white, a proper notebook and an iPad will accompany me, my listening ears are turned on, ideas and amusing banter are pretty much guaranteed and I might give you a hug (but it’ll probably be a proper handshake).
- Charlee Sully, Creative Director of The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny.