New Language = New Meeting Culture

Here’s section 4 from an article Reshan Richards and I wrote for the NAIS blog.  We’ve been using it with leaders — inside and outside education — to help them shift meeting culture in their organization by paying attention to the way they describe, define, and plan meetings.  

4. Blended leaders challenge meeting structures and change meeting structures.

A combination of minds and perspectives, i.e., a meeting, can be a wonderful thing, aiding in problem-solving and helping leaders to see around corners. There is more than one way to skin a meeting, though. Consider the following:   

Synchronous, face-to-face, in-person

  • Affordances: The most human, most personal way to meet. In a shared environmental context, you can hear tone, pace, and inflection and see facial cues, gestures, and body language.
  • Limitations: Interactions are difficult to record or capture (even with note-taking). Such meetings have to be scheduled, requiring pre-meeting effort.

Synchronous, face-to-face, across distance (e.g., via Zoom)

  • Affordances: Offers the affordances of in-person meetings minus the shared environmental context.
  • Limitations: Technological interruptions can break up the flow of dialogue. Also, setting up this meeting requires onboarding people in the digital “room.” Finally, participants in multiperson meetings won’t always know when/how to chime in.   

Synchronous, phone call/conference call

  • Affordances: Tone, pace, and inflection can all be heard, and meeting participants benefit from a shared temporal context.
  • Limitations: Meeting participants cannot “read” the room, especially when multiple people are involved. This meeting type also requires effort to schedule and calling instructions.

Synchronous, text based/shared document

  • Affordances: People respond and interact in the moment, producing a clear record of the exchange.
  • Limitations: Gaining social/emotional information from the exchange is difficult.

Asynchronous, email/shared document

  • Affordances: Your team members can continue to work in a different time and place at a time that suits them. This meeting type creates an accessible record of the work.
  • Limitations: Without shared temporal context, connection to other participants can be elusive.

The full article can be found here:


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