The Surprising Science of Meetings Book Summary - The Surprising Science of Meetings Book explained in key points
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The Surprising Science of Meetings summary

Steven G. Rogelberg

How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

4.3 (285 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

"The Surprising Science of Meetings" by Steven G. Rogelberg is an insightful guide to improving meetings with scientific research and practical tips. It teaches how to transform unproductive meeting environments to maximize productivity, creativity and engagement among participants.

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    The Surprising Science of Meetings
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    Modern meetings are expensive, time-consuming and unenjoyable.

    How much time do you spend in meetings? Whether it’s one-on-one with your manager or catching up with the whole department, many people would say far too much! In the United States, for example, 55 million workplace meetings happen a day. All these meetings are costing companies huge amounts of money and time. 

    It’s a fact that employees spend more and more of their workdays in meetings. The Harvard Business Review estimated that in 1976, American workers had eleven million meetings a day. That’s just one-fifth of the number of American meetings that currently take place. Indeed, research conducted by software company Lucid Meetings indicates that non-managerial staff now meet an average of eight times weekly. For managerial staff, that number is even higher at 12 times per week. And senior leaders like Executive Officers now spend the majority of their time in meetings. Indeed, one joint study by Harvard and Columbia University found that CEOs in Italy were spending 60 percent of their working day in meetings. Incredibly, this figure excluded time spent on conference calls! 

    Inevitably, all this time adds up to a big expense. 

    You can uncover just how much money each meeting costs your company by multiplying an attendee’s hourly wage by the number of hours the meeting took, and adding together the answer for each person who attended. But be prepared, because the answer may shock your finance department. 

    Xerox, a printing company, estimates that meetings between their 24,000 person development team cost the company over $100 million a year. And Elise Keith, co-founder of Lucid Meetings, estimates that across all workplaces in the United States, the US is spending $1.4 trillion on meetings a year – that’s around eight percent of the country’s annual GDP! 

    But is this time and money well spent? Evidence suggests that many workers don’t think so. A 2005 survey conducted by Microsoft asked 40,000 workers all over the world what they thought of meetings. Depressingly, 69 percent said their meetings were unproductive. In a survey by Clarizen of two thousand American workers, a shocking 50 percent of respondents said they would rather do any other unpleasant work activity than attend their weekly team update meeting! 

    Clearly, something is amiss with many of our office meetings, but how can we make them better? Let’s start by looking at how we lead meetings.

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    What is The Surprising Science of Meetings about?

    The Surprising Science of Meetings (2019) explores what goes wrong in our work meetings and reveals how to transform them into positive, productive experiences. Drawing on the latest scientific insights from the world of business psychology, these blinks are an indispensable guide to making team meetings more efficient.

    Best quote from The Surprising Science of Meetings

    Amazon has used what they call the two-pizza rule: the meeting should not contain more people than what two pizzas could feed.

    —Steven G. Rogelberg
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    Who should read The Surprising Science of Meetings?

    • Leaders hoping to take their meetings to the next level
    • Entrepreneurs looking for fresh business insights
    • Psychology buffs seeking a new angle on work culture

    About the Author

    Steven G. Rogelberg is the Chancellor's Professor at the University of North Carolina and Secretary General of the Alliance of Organizational Psychology. Rogelberg’s research on leadership, workplace meetings and teamwork has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He regularly advises major organizations such as IBM, Procter & Gamble and Siemens.

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