Science Can Make Your Meetings Awesome

Categories: Blog
Why This Matters: Scientific research provides insight on how to improve a common activity typically taken for granted – the meeting.
By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager
The Surprising Science of Meetings
‘The Surprising Science of Meetings’

There are 55 million meetings a day in the U.S. and a majority of them are effective – at least in the eyes of those leading them.

People’s perceptions of their ability to run meetings are inflated, leading them to believe their meetings are better than they actually are.

To understand how leaders can fall into this trap, ask yourself, “Is my driving ability better than the average driver?”

“People generally think that they’re above the average,” said UNC Charlotte professor Steven Rogelberg. “That general human tendency certainly exists with meetings, too. People say, ‘Well, yeah, I’m better than most people at running meetings.”

Steven Rogelberg, author, The Surprising Science of Meetings.
Steven Rogelberg, author, ‘The Surprising Science of Meetings.’

Basing meeting effectiveness on sound, scientific research is what Rogelberg encourages leaders to do in his book, “The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance.” It draws from extensive research, analytics and data mining and survey interviews with over 5,000 employees across a range of industries to share proven practices and techniques that enhance the quality of meetings.

Rogelberg works in organizational science, which focuses individual and organizational health, wellbeing and effectiveness. He studied meetings because they were driving him crazy.

“As an organizational scientist, I wanted to try to conduct research with the ultimate hope of trying to move the dial and make meetings better,” he said.

In January, Rogelberg will put a spin on his work for cultural institutions and nonprofits for the program “The Surprising Science of Meetings: How to Run Staff, Team, and Board Meetings that are Truly Effective, Engaging, Inclusive, and Ripe for Innovation.”

The session will provide nonprofit team leads, managers, executives and board members with knowledge and resources to lead meetings that promote effectiveness and innovation.

Meeting leaders are the key to achieving meetings that engage employees, Rogelberg said. Nearly 80-percent of leaders never receive training on how to run meetings. Their meeting experiences are fundamentally different than other participants because they control the meeting and often talk the most.

“If the leader thinks these things are working well, then they’re not going to be very motivated to change or to make improvements,” Rogelberg said.

What will facilitate change is self-awareness and systems that provide feedback and accountability for meetings. The goal is to eliminate bad meetings, not to eliminate meetings.

“A world without meetings is a very bad world,” he said. “Meetings are critical ways of building an inclusive environment. They’re critical ways of capitalizing on diversity. They’re critical ways of fostering teamwork and collaboration. Meetings are where organizational democracies come to life.”

Have Better Meetings

Nonprofit team leads, managers, executives and board members are invited to participate in “The Surprising Science of Meetings: How to Run Staff, Team, and Board Meetings that are Truly Effective, Engaging, Inclusive, and Ripe for Innovation” from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

The program will be led by Dr. Steven D. Rogelberg, professor of organizational science, management, and psychology at UNC Charlotte. Participants will:

  • Get a quick primer on what we know about meetings from an evidence-based perspective.
  • Gain knowledge and resources on how to effectively lead meetings to promote effectiveness and innovation during highly interactive discussions that go way beyond using an agenda.
  • Learn unconventional approaches to your meetings, establish better practices to take back to the office immediately, and discover a new mindset that drives value and ROI.

Cost is $15, which includes a copy of Rogelberg’s book, “The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead your Team to Peak Performance.”