Leaders, Leave Meetings. Get to a Meeting of the Minds!

Musings on Effective Meetings from The People-Skills Coach™

In the workplace, leaders and teams still search for ways to hold tremendously effective meetings. Despite years of pundits’ advice, side trips into tangent land, chatty corner conversations, habitually late arrivals, vibrating smart phones and tablets, tunnel vision, resistance, and lack of focus keep everyone from the bulls-eye.

They also leave most people dreading the next meeting.

So I wonder, will we find the Holy Grail if we leave meetings in the dust and instead hold a meeting of the minds?

Leave Meetings! Got a Meeting of the Minds?

Words do matter and the word meeting has always been too vague for me. It has confused workplace teams for decades. A meeting and its 21st century cousin, a meet-up, suggest a free form event to which people can arrive fashionably late.

Whereas the phrase, a meeting of the minds, is packed with clear requirements.

A meeting of the minds,

  1. Sounds the knell of knowledge exchange that calls everyone to be there on time — else there’s no exchange.
  2. Suggests there is a specific topic and purpose. You wonder a meeting of the minds “on what”? It breeds interest and focus.
  3. Prepares the mind to be ready to meet. Most would feel embarrassed to attend a meeting of the minds and say only I don’t know or I’m not prepared!
  4. Inherently requires listening, discussing, and participation of all minds. Unless everyone is telepathic, all must engage else the views stay hidden in the minds.
  5. Engenders all to speak in terms that others understand else the minds don’t meet.
  6. Brings the endless talker up for air to hear what other minds think.
  7. Bends the obstinate else why are they at a meeting of the minds?
  8. Coaxes all to agreement and decision. After all, isn’t that the meaning of we came to a meeting of the minds?

In the workplace today we have multicultural teams, virtual technology, global reach, and still that pesky problem of ineffective meetings.

I say we’ve got nothing to lose by giving meetings a new moniker and seeing if it gets us to the Holy Grail.

Maybe we should even hold a contest to see what the new moniker should be if a meeting of the minds doesn’t hold everyone’s attention!

What say you?

From my professional experience (with a wry twist) to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please first email info@katenasser.com for terms of use. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Related Post: 7 Steps from Brutally Blunt to Helpfully Honest

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, customer service, customer experience, and teamwork. She turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

11 Responses to “Leaders, Leave Meetings. Get to a Meeting of the Minds!”

  1. Martina says:

    It is a noble thought Kate, but how do you get people to stop having those horrible meetings in the first place. Yes, it would be wonderful if we only met when there was actual information to exchange, but that is not the culture we have birthed. The culture that we have given rise to is populated with overburdened schedules and the scheduled time for the meeting is the only hope of getting the people you want there. This is only a hope, because even though they are there in person, they are rarely there in mind or spirit. Yes, a lot of time and talent is wasted in this fashion.
    Just a thought.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Martina,
      Much of what you describe comes down to the culture the leader sets in the org or allows to grow if it is different from her/his vision. I can hear the frustration in your comment and it is well shared by so many who face these type of meetings.

      Who knows, maybe enough leaders will get frustrated and then make significant changes to fix this pesky problem.

      Thanks for sharing your view here. I am always grateful for the meeting of the minds here on Smart SenseAbilities(TM).


  2. In the organization I grew up in we often had what were termed (behind the scenes), “tall grass” meetings. Those are ones in which individuals are constantly wander through the tall grass as people shouted because they couldn’t “find” each other, and nothing was accomplished or decided upon. I love your notion of a meeting of the minds because it naturally suggests that there ARE minds, they must work together, their purpose was to meet; that is, to be in genuine contact, and to make a call that would be commonly understood and followed up together — the very opposite of the tall grass where everyone had an agenda, and all were hidden from each other.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Dan,
      I have never heard the phrase “tall grass” meetings and yet it paints a strong and accurate image. Wow.
      It just shows how words strongly communicate image and reality.

      Glad you found my phrase “meeting of the minds” to be a positive one!
      Many thanks for your time and your comment here.

      Warmest regards,

  3. Khalid says:


    The meeting topic is already included in my to-do-list as I have an assignment part of my leadership program that I need to do so very good timing 🙂

    I will use your “Meeting of Minds” in my write up 🙂 excellent phrase!

    Meetings are very expensive as you usually gather people who you can be utilized doing something else during the meeting time!

    The meeting is not a waste of time if it was arranged properly! It’s all to do with planning! Agenda, proper location, needed people and time keeping!

    I loved Meeting of minds term as it states that people has to be mind present in the meeting to have postivite contribution!

    Thanks Kate for your creativity 🙂


  4. Kate,

    I love it! If you have ever been in a meeting that was being held for the sake of keeping with tradition, a meeting just to say you had a meeting… This resonates.

    The title “A Meeting of The Minds” provides vision and purpose and is a beautiful compliment to Patrick Lencioni’s book DEATH BY MEETING.

    Have a great week!


  5. Great subject matter. Begs the question, did Moses come down from the mountain and offer the 11th commandment, Thou shall hold horrible unproductive meetings and never change the format!! A meeting of the minds is a great tool and concept shifter that allows people to think differently. It takes confident leadership(hence leadership v. management) to effect said change.

    My work with congregations at the Board Level focuses on just such change where we right size typically top heavy boards that are in hybrid mode of being both managers and leaders. Best to separate those functions. Then proper tools to make a meeting of the minds by ensuring that proper agenda content & structure are followed.

    Last piece, lots of education and reinforcement about the journey these people are taking toward making best use of their time. It’s exciting and challenging but it cant become flavor of the month. Success demands that these efforts become part and parcel of daily life for that leader and that group.

    Some very applicable reads from my world that translate easily into the business world are Dan Hotchkiss, Governance and Ministry(read:leadership v. management) and Edwin Friedman, A Failure of Nerve:Leadership in the Era of a Quick Fix. The latter is a must read for anyone in a leadership role.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Philip,
      Love your wry opening about Moses and as far as I know he did not come back and write down Commandment #11. Thanks for the book recommendations – always good to get those and many thanks for your time in leaving your insightful comments here at Smart SenseAbilties(tm).

      Warmest regards and thanks,

  6. This sea change would be significant in terms of results and very much welcome. I sense there are often enough people in a meeting who would welcome this mindset and approach, and could bring others along.

  7. John Wenger says:

    Enjoyed what you have written, Kate, as usual. Two things come to my mind when I read. One is the notion I apply in my work of a “cultural conserve”. It is something that we create, so it is called into being through a creative act. However, after some time it becomes a little conserved….ossified. It initially springs into life because it satisfies a need, but over some time, something else is required because we’ve moved on; our needs are different, our relationships are different, our systems are different. Meetings are like this. They are one of the most ossified of all cultural conserves in the world of work I believe. The other thing that came to mind as I read was this: there are only 5 reasons we should be holding meetings at work. In the modern workplace, where networks (not hierarchies) hold greater sway, it can be anyone’s responsibility to question whether one of these 5 is being satisfied. If not, I say people should vote with their feet. Why on earth would we set up a regular weekly (or monthly or fortnightly or, heavens forfend, daily) time just for the sake of doing it, if we weren’t achieving one of these five things. It’s Meeting Madness, I say! They should be purposeful, stimulating and, yes, even enjoyable and I would suggest that in our leader-full workplaces, anyone could propose a change to the conserve and take the lead. Perhaps such a move would shift our perception of the word “meeting”, which would be no bad thing.

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