Some thoughts on good meetings

I love the fact that “good meeting” is an emergent meme on Twitter: the phrase is seen by a lot of people on Twitter as an empty platitude, the twitter equivalent of saying “er”. We can see it as an example of one of the ways we just keep the conversation going. Perhaps we could even go so far as to read it as a way of putting on a brave face in these difficult economic times: after all if every one thinks you’re having a good meeting, they’ll think you’re doing well, which marketing folks suggest is a good thing if you want to keep getting work.  The interesting thing is I’ve seen the rise of the “good meeting” before.

I used to go to lots of these weird BNI meetings to win new business.  The idea was that we all passed business to one another at the end of the meeting as part of a formal agenda point. We went around the room and people were asked to make a positive contribution to the meeting (there was a big pressure to be positive).  The ultimate contribution was bringing lots of business leads for other people.  A close second was having brought a visitor to the meeting (because all your friends could tap them up for work).  Then came reporting back on a “good meeting” you’d had with someone in the group, and how you were going to do lots of great work together (but people tended to be vague on detail).  Finally, if you were desperate, you just said that thought it had been a “good meeting” that morning.  Often we found there were a lot of “good meetings”. Remind you of anything?

As a bit of fun, the other day I set up @goodmeeting to retweet from a Twitter search for “good meeting”. It rightly got closed for being a daft bot and breaching Twitter TOS.  But here’s the punchline: the majority of people who bothered to @reply, follow, and DM the account were all connected to BNI.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: