Barry Marshall was a doctor who discovered that the cause of ulcers was bacteria and not stress as people thought. This was good news because you can treat bacteria with antibiotics.

Nobody believed him. To make his case, Barry called a meeting. He invited his colleagues into his office, drank a glass full of bacteria, gave himself the beginnings of an ulcer, and then treated himself with antibiotics.

His colleagues were convinced and his discovery improved millions of lives and eventually landed him a Nobel prize.

As much as Barry Marshal had a great idea, it would have been useless, unless he managed to bring other people along with him. He needed data and he needed a “bloody” meeting.

In my previous email, I talked about the cost of bad meetings in our mental health and our bottom line.

What about then eliminating meetings completely? Basecamp founders said that meetings are toxic after all.

Well, while I am a huge advocate for having as few meetings as possible – I have two meeting-free days a week myself – you cannot eliminate meetings completely if you want to have an impact.

The lonely genius is a myth.

When researchers analysed 19 million scientific papers and 2 million patents, they found that people working in teams produce research that is cited more than twice as often as that of individuals.

I was blown away when I read that study. The data spans 50 years and it is undeniable.

We need each other to spark and challenge our thinking.

Think of the Wright brothers who, according to their journals, had an amazingly close collaboration when they invented the aeroplane.

Think of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who collaborated so closely in the creative process that all their songs had both names, and they shared the profits equally.

From deciding whether to go to war, to spearheading a ground-breaking new idea, humans have always changed the course of history through meetings. While relatively powerless compared to other animals individually, we have gained our power through collaborating with each other.

Good meetings can inspire action. 

It’s not easy to get people to change their behaviour, but you have more chances of achieving this if you meet face-to-face.

This is why politicians tour the country before elections.

This is why companies invest in salespeople for high-priced items instead of simply relying on ads.

If you want to influence people to do something, you’re likely to be more successful if you meet with them.

Another benefit of good meetings is that they allow people to build a stronger connection. We are social animals, and the way we have built a rapport for thousands of years is through meeting people face-to-face.

The relationships with our clients, colleagues, suppliers and investors can make or break our company and career. We can make our connection stronger through meetings rather than written communication alone.

Good meetings can also help prevent misunderstandings and confusion. 

A big part of our communication is done through our tone of voice and body language. How many times has your intention been misunderstood in an email so you’ve had to jump on a call to sort things out?

A meeting is likely to be your best bet when you need to communicate something and you can’t afford confusion or misunderstandings.

Good meetings can also help build a vibrant, healthy culture. 

How you do anything is how you do everything. How you run your meetings is how you run your company. If you want a healthy culture that is inclusive, friendly, honest and creative, you will need to hold meetings that are too.

Being a leader means guiding a group of people to achieve a common purpose. Holding a meeting means bringing a group of people together in real-time to achieve a common purpose.

There is a huge overlap between leadership and meetings. You cannot be a successful leader with bad meetings.

So how can you have successful meetings? You need to take care of their Purpose, People and Process.

Let’s start with the Purpose. There are only 4 potential outcomes you should pursue in your meeting, and they all conveniently start with a D:
· Define (a problem or a goal).
· Develop (ideas)
· Decide, and
· Do!

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