At the suggestion of design diva Máirín Duffy, I’ve been reading Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Dan Brown.

I’m not that far into the book, but a lot of it resonates with me.  Particularly the constant message about the importance of documenting things and the value of pictures.  In the first few pages of the book, Brown talks about the importance of meetings to discuss new designs. As part of this discussion he talks about what makes for good meetings.

I know.  Most people think meetings are a waste of time.  A lot of the times they are. This is because they are unintentionally designed to be a waste of time through lack of specific goals or expected outcomes.  Some of the most successful meetings I’ve facilitated took just as much time to plan as to facilitate.  Then there was additional time after the meeting to clearly document what was discussed and decided along with the next expected actions.

I think it was Tim Ferris in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, who says something along the lines of “If there is nothing to be decided then you shouldn’t have a meeting.”  Meetings should only be held to discuss things and make decisions that can’t be made other ways.

Here are Brown’s meeting suggestions from Communicating Design:

1) Establish and communicate a purpose

2) Decide what you want to get out of the meeting before going into it

3) Think through participant expectations, agendas, and questions

4) Invite the minimal number of people possible

5) Send materials around before the meeting

6) Take pride in running a good meeting– “It’s almost better than preparing a good document: that feeling you get when people get up from a meeting and say, ‘That was a good meeting.’  You’ve ended early and you’ve made progress.  These are two things people look for in a meeting.  Don’t try to do anything more.”

7) For new clients, assume the first meeting won’t go well.