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Meet Until You’re Weak in the Knees

Productivity comes to a grinding halt when meetings happen, which is why it's important to measure them with action steps--and to keep them short.

Everyone has their own creative process. But, most of us also work with others in the pursuit of larger ideas that require coordination. To collaborate, we have many tools – like email, online messaging, and many more – but, sometimes we just need to meet.


hile meetings are important, most people (especially those in larger companies) will agree that meetings consume too much of our lives. As we’ve discussed before, when you measure the outcome of a meeting with action steps, you realize that many meetings yield… nothing.

But alas, meetings are still necessary. People need to connect and discuss certain issues. One best practice we have observed in the field is calling “standing meetings” – meetings in which people gather and remain standing. The tendency to sit back and reiterate points – commentate rather than content-make-dwindles as people get weak in the knees. Standing meetings become more actionable.

Standing meetings become more actionable.

Courtney Holt, the former head of Digital Media at MTV and now the Head of MySpace Music, insists on the value of standing meetings in his team, “I try to make every meeting – especially those that are called last minute – a standing meeting…ideally each meeting finishes as quickly as it can.”

Most impromptu meetings that are called to quickly catch up on a project or discuss problem can happen in 10 minutes or less. However, when they are scheduled in formal calendar programs, they tend to be set in 30 or 60 minute increments. Why? Just because it is the default calendar setting. Ideally, meetings should just have a start time and end as quickly as they can.

The pundits will cry, “how about meetings that are called to generate buy-in and build culture.” Well, these meetings are important, but their purpose should be transparent. Most often, leaders call meetings out of their own insecurity. If you don’t know what is going on with your team, the easiest and most comforting solution is to call a meeting.

Next time you make the expensive decision to call a meeting, be clear with the purpose and consider making it a standing meeting.

More Posts by Scott Belsky

Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.

Comments (3)
  • Glenn Rogers

    Agree Scott.

    One thing I’ll add is the importance to choosing the right space for a standing meetings. A dedicated space clear of table and chairs, avoiding any temptation to get comfortable.


  • Calboronster

    We have a better idea. Meeting at the desks. This is where the meeting happens at the desk of the team member that is most likely to ‘blah’, usually the team lead. This way the other redundants are free to cut short whenever necessary and the boss is the one to break up unnecessary chat as his time at the desk is getting accounted. Works most of the time.

  • Ashley Kiel

    One thing I’ve liked with standing meetings is just being outside while doing them. When you have fresh air in your lungs and you’re breathing deeply your ability to form concise and descriptive sentences increases. I also feel that when I have short standing meetings outside I retain more of the information without needing to write it down.

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