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A frustration about meetings

Welcome dear reader. I am humbled with your interest in what triggered me to build the webapp you might already checked out. Why rating meetings? What is my plan? Let me try and provide that context.

Xander Groesbeek

Monday 16 December 2019 · 2 minute read

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First, on me, I am an ex-consultant, ex-corporate with about 9 years of work experience. Since I left my corporate job last year, I have been wandering around the start-up world. I launched Surprise.date, Dogswelcome and some smaller 'idea balloons'. I also participated in the Antler accelerator program this summer. And it is this adventure that taught me about proper product-market fit validation.

And while I can spend a whole book on the lessons learned at Antler (I validated about 37 ideas in eight weeks), overall it is interesting to recognize that ideas that seemed obvious at the start, did not make sense from a unit economics perspective. Likewise, there were ideas that in theory could make tons of money, but would be hard to sell (think corporate). But as I went through my validation, the process always involved meeting people. Get introduced, build a relationship and find common ground to move forward. Some of these meetings brought forth great energy, others depleted it.

It made me wonder: what drives meeting effectiveness?

It made me think back of my years in consultancy. Improving meeting facilitation skills was always hammered on. At the client, it was always us, the consultants, chairing meetings. Only once I moved into corporate life, I understood we chaired meetings not because of our role and price tag, but because we were good at it. And it makes sense, I too never learned about running meetings in school. And it didn't even seem to correlate with corporate experience. Even at the highest level I witnessed going into too many details and the impact of hierarchy.

And data support this. Meetings cost loads of money, are perceived as ineffective and get employees frustrated.

So one wonders, why aren't we improving them? There are tons of self-help books, videos and tooling out there that can help you improve running meetings.

  • Set an agenda
  • Have objectives
  • Manage time
  • Define the next steps
  • Be inclusive...

All very valid. But I know few (if not none) people that apply them, at least not structurally.

You can try and self-improve, but if your meeting participants do not feel similar at the same time... Your efforts will go unnoticed and unsupported. It's human nature or groupthink, that limits the development of the whole. Add to that the comfort with the status quo and the fear of hurting someone's feelings, and you will not get that invaluable (critical) feedback that can help focus you on running more effective meetings.

"It's human nature, or groupthink, that limits the development of the whole"

And that leaves me where I am today with Rate My Meeting. If people are frustrated, look to improve, but apparently can not seem to structurally do better: can tracking meeting leadership skills help? And can targeted feedback help focus on where to improve?

I think yes.

I make it my mission to improve meeting effectiveness. And believe I can do so through actionable, personalized insights. Adding a layer of visibility, or gamification I trust will help to keep focus, to persevere. I will keep you informed on my approach to get there.

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