The two crucial types of “how” to address in remote meetings

Basic UX of meetings

When a meeting is productive, you leave feeling like you know what you’re supposed to do next — and what others are responsible to do. You may have more questions than before, but they’re better-informed questions. Your frustrations are minimal, perhaps your video software cut out once or an important speaker froze mid-sentence, but you all were able to recoup. You were able to get alignment, clarity, or insight from others in the meeting.

The two crucial “how” questions

You can avoid Dante-level meetings by planning, informing, engaging, and confirming with participants — or being a participant aware of the plan for the list above. Shortly after entering any meeting, if not beforehand, you should be able to answer the following basic questions:

  1. How will we conduct this meeting?
  2. How will we work with the output of this meeting?
Woodcut From A Venetian Edition Of The Divine Comedy, c.1520

Going in: How will we conduct this meeting?

  • Who documents or takes notes, and who facilitates?
  • What is the agenda, purpose, and intended outcome of us getting together?
  • Who talks? For how long? To the whole group or in smaller groups?
  • If we come to a decision point, who decides and how?

Heading out: How will we work with the output of this meeting?

In Never Split the Difference, professional negotiator Chris Voss warns against “getting to yes without specifying how.”

Doing the work in real life

While it’s not particularly difficult to create an agenda and activity plan for a meeting, it can be very hard to re-set norms that are in place.

Making the work experiences we want

As we build groups, organizations, and new ventures in these changing times, the question we have to contend with is: which experiences do you want the people around you to have?

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Hadassah Damien

Hadassah Damien

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design strategist & facilitator // economics researcher @rffearlessmoney // progressive technologist // performer