Conversations Conquer Meeting Frustration

People don’t categorically dread conversations the way they dread meetings. But why? People discuss various topics at a desk, in the hallway, over lunch and feel just fine. Have the same discussions in a meeting and watch frustration rise.

So the score is conversations 10, meetings 0. Is it because conversations don’t have the expectation of agreement, decision, and progress that meetings do? Or because conversations tend to be shorter bursts of time with the option to end them at will?

Run your next meeting as bursts of conversations and conquer meeting frustration. Here’s a 3 step approach that includes some lighthearted fun.

Conversation Conquers Meeting Frustration Image by: R. Rasmussen

Great Conversations Conquer Meeting Frustration

First focus on great conversations then on agreement and decisions. Mire the two together and the frustration will return.

  1. For each agenda item, ask all to write a conversation topic on a card at face-to-face meetings or into an e-box at virtual meetings. Benefit: Interest, buy-in, and a chance to be heard.
  2. Like speed dating, have short bursts of conversation on each topic. Facts, opinion, and respectful debate are all allowed. After the short bursts, you call for either next steps or a true decision. Do not simply continue conversation — the frustration will return.
    (Note: Use a mix of written and verbal communication to accommodate introverts and extroverts!)
  3. For some lighthearted fun, pick a theme that fits your industry, organization, or team. For example, in the healthcare industry you could have the conversation cards look like a patient’s chart and discuss your meeting topics as if you were presenting a patient’s case.
    Related Resource: Business Meeting Theme Ideas at MeetingGeniusBlog.Com.

When you capture and use the positive aspects of conversation, your well planned meeting will be effective, memorable, and most importantly — not frustrating.

Yours in service,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Additional Resource: 25 Rules for the Perfect Brainstorm on Innovation Management blog.

What successes have you had at reducing meeting frustration? Will you share your ideas with all of us in the comment section below?

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers workshops, keynotes, and consultations that turn interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. Leaders have been booking Kate for 21 years to fill the gaps of diversity with teamwork for business wins. See this site for customer results and book Kate now.

One Response to “Conversations Conquer Meeting Frustration”

  1. Here’s an iPad app that we created that helps improve meeting effectiveness. We also have versions for iPhone and a meeting calculator that measures the cost of live meetings.

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest