All killer, no filler for your meetings

Sure, vinyl is coming back in with the hipsters, but are they really listening to the filler tracks? Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Sure, vinyl is coming back in with the hipsters, but are they really listening to the filler tracks? Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The music industry is changing. This is not news, but it’s important for illustrative purposes. Back in the day (say 1990s or earlier), the way to be commercially successful was to sell records in some sort of physical format (vinyl, cassette or CD). To do that, the way to succeed was by getting a couple of popular singles played on commercial radio (or TV). Sometimes one was enough. One good single could prompt enough people to purchase your record.

The next evolution of selling music was digital download. Platforms like iTunes made it possible to download the music that you wanted to purchase for your own listening pleasure. The songs were sold both individually as well as in album format. In this context, to get an album sold it took a lot more popular songs – there was a tipping point where it became economical for purchasers to buy a whole album as opposed to individual songs. That may have been 4 or 5 songs that we would have been willing to pay for. Either way, if I wanted to be commercially successful the trend is suggesting that I need to make more songs that you want to listen to (killer) and less that are just ‘OK’ (filler).

After digital downloads came streaming, which is another huge leap. Now, it’s rare for young people to purchase music at all. They (or their parents depending on who you listen to) pay a subscription fee to a service and listen to the music they want when they want it. Now, to even be listened to, every song needs to be appealing. Perhaps even to the point where the start of every song needs to be appealing - lest it be skipped! Commercially, this is a huge shift for musicians as well. Their royalties for being played on a streaming service are negligible. In order to be commercially successful, most artists need to make their money by playing live in front of audiences.

What’s the point, and how does it relate to meetings? As one of my high school teachers used to say back in 1994…”the point is, is…” two things:

  1. Attracting and retaining attention is critical for good meetings - we need people who are adding value to the meeting and we also need the meetings to be adding value to the participants.

  2. Elevate live, simultaneous and interactive experiences (the equivalent of a musician playing gigs) to be more than information distribution that can be experienced at a time of the audience's choosing (the recorded music).

Once again in our meetings, this boils down to taking a deliberate approach to designing a meeting. When we think about what the meeting is designed to achieve, the value that participants will add and receive, the way that we can best engage everyone's attention - then we are less at risk of participants 'tuning out'.

Whilst it's unlikely that people will simply get up and leave from your meeting, what may be worse is that that their mind leaves while their body is present. You may be able to relate to that experience personally. According to research by Verizon, who asked over 2 000 people across companies about meetings, nearly all meeting attendees (91%) admit to daydreaming during meetings, while over one-third (39%) have dozed!

Design and create meetings that are deliberate, engaging and powerful. A couple of questions for you to reflect on:

  1. Do you ever find your attention drifting in meetings? If so, what are the triggers and how might you address this?

  2. What is one thing that you could design into your meetings this week to make them more engaging?