A Formula for Working Group Calls That Rock

by Michael Figura

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I’ve been attending tech meetings and working group calls for well over 20 years now. Some are great. Some… well, some just suck. Some meetings you’re just tapping your foot waiting for them to end. And in most cases, let’s be honest, you’re just multitasking and hoping nobody calls you by name with a difficult question. The truth is tech calls are simply hit or miss. But I had the privilege of attending one recently that rocked. And I left that meeting with one thought: there has to be a formula there that can be applied to any other meeting. A formula we could all benefit from. So, here’s the breakdown for a one hour meeting:

  1. Start with a difficult topic, but time-box it to less than 15 minutes. Don’t try and boil the ocean right out of the gate. But starting with a difficult topic gets everyone on the call engaged and thinking.
  2. Continue with a quick status report of other topics and events. This is important to the formula because we’re continuing the meeting with more exciting news.
  3. Move on to one or more other agenda items of general importance. This is the least exciting portion of the call, but it’s a must on the to-do list, as progress has to be made. Otherwise, what’s the point of the call?
  4. Finish with a time-boxed discussion about potential new ideas for what might be on the horizon. This is the most daring portion of this simple formula, but it’s imperative. This last point ensures that everyone leaves the call excited and looking forward to the next call.

It’s a relatively simple formula, but sometimes the best logic is elementary in nature. I’ll be applying this formula to our upcoming meetings as best I can, when the agenda permits some adjustments, and monitoring the success or failure of the formula. I’m guessing the result will be a large benefit to the Open Applications Group, as well as our members that attend these calls. And if it can benefit us, I’m certain it can benefit your organization, as well.