I Do Believe in Meetings. I Do, Do!

By Becky Jarrell

The following is an original blog post by Becky Jarrell. It is based on the importance of good meetings as presented in her new book, POW-erful Meetings.

I believe in meetings. At least, I believe in good meetings. Unfortunately, there are so many unnecessary, unproductive, and uninteresting meetings, that some people want to banish meetings from the workplace. While I agree that some meetings can and should be abolished, I think we also need to recognize the value of rich face-to-face communication and improve our meetings – especially when rolling out organizational change. 

Change begins with awareness of what’s happening, why, and how the change impacts the employees personally.

As a Change Leadership Consultant, I help leaders prepare their people to successfully adopt large-scale corporate change. Change begins with awareness of what’s happening, why, and how the change impacts the employees personally. Face-to-face meetings or conversations are the most effective form of communication for helping employees learn about upcoming changes. Not email. Not training materials and policy documents. Not videos. You should use these other channels later as part of your blended multi-media approach to reinforce the communication, but use a meeting for your initial connections with impacted employees. Meetings allow for a human touch to simply let folks know what’s going on and what the change means to them, as well as to allow for two-way communication to get input, feedback, or answer questions.

Senior leader talking to entry level workers

Most employees going through change (74%) say they want to hear the “why” behind the change from senior leadership – either the CEO/President or the senior executive leader in their division. An ideal meeting for this communication is a town hall meeting. As for the “how” related to the change, 78% of employees say they want to hear the details and how they are personally impacted by their immediate supervisor. The ideal meeting for this communication is either a team meeting or a one-on-one conversation. (Source: Prosci, Best Practices in Change Management, 2016)

Face-to-face meetings or conversations are the most effective form of communication for helping employees learn about upcoming changes.

Recently, my team interviewed a variety of employees at a large conglomerate to ask about their communication preferences related to learning about corporate changes. We interviewed senior leadership, middle management, and individual contributors. The employees preferred a wide variety of communication channels, with their answers often related to their learning style and their type of job (off-site with clients versus in the office). The respondents consistently favored face-to-face communication for important messages. 

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Some of the general findings that we uncovered included:

  • Face-to-Face Communication is Richer.
    • “We need to hear about changes in person at a team meeting – from a guest speaker or team leader.”
    • “Nothing beats the in-person and over the phone conversation.”
    • “Don’t rely on email communication. I may have 300-400 unanswered emails at the end of each day. I’ll miss your email.”
  • Highlight the Importance of the Change.
    • “We need to know the why behind the what.”
  • Make it Interactive.
    • “I need to be able to ask questions back and forth first.”
  • LESS is MORE.
    • Too much information “can be overwhelming.”
  • Let Me Hear from My Leader.
    • “I expect my team leader to push info to me.”

In summary, to paraphrase Peter Pan – I DO believe in meetings. I do. And I encourage you to believe in meetings, too. 

This article is the first in an occasional series. Next up: “Engaging Key Stakeholders throughout your Change Initiative.”


Becky Jarrell is the author of POW-erful Meetings, a collection of strategies, tips, and tools to make your meetings more productive, interesting, and valuable for your organization. Becky has a passion for helping people see different perspectives, take new actions, and get better results. She has specialized in Change Management, Organizational Effectiveness, and Leadership Training for over 25 years.

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