Wherever two or more of you gather, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The reason that most of us hate meetings is that meetings are so hateful: They’re too often aimless and endless, poorly conducted and seldom meaningfully concluded. Parker—founder of a company that specializes in “transformative gatherings” and a sort of Martha Stewart of the conference table—identifies the common errors that go into gathering, which she helpfully, if perhaps obviously, glosses as “the conscious bringing together of people for a reason.” The “for a reason” bit is key, for the act of bringing people together can seem like an afterthought, seldom planned through from beginning to end and a font of missed opportunities. The first step, writes the author, is “committing to a bold, sharp purpose,” with milestones along the way that include plenty of reminders for why the attendees are there in the first place. Parker nicely explores and sometimes explodes conventions: Must a baby shower be the exclusive turf of women? Can people who hate meetings be persuaded that they’re something other than a “Massive Exciting Opportunity for a Panic Attack”? To the detriment of a book that focuses on sharp significance, the author sometimes allows her anecdotes on successful and unsuccessful gathering to run on until they’re out of steam, violating her own principle: “If you are going to hold your guests captive, you had better do it well.” And readers who detest business jargon won’t be happy with phrases like, “we didn’t gauge their buy-in.” Fortunately, such lapses are outweighed by Parker’s enthusiastically delivered formulas for better get-togethers, from “sprout speeches” to accepting that time is fleeting and that the good planner will strive to make a meeting different and memorable.
Useful to those whose job it is to plan meetings, conferences, and the like and a worthy survival manual for consumers of the same.