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How to Hold a Staff Meeting That Doesn't Suck

We recently started what I hope will be a regular event at TXI—the TXI Round Table.

At our current size, TXI is in an interesting place. We're still small enough that everybody can fit in a single room, but large enough that people on different teams don't always know what everyone else is doing.

However, trying to get around this often leads to problems similar to bad agile standups. Everybody is waiting for their turn to speak; nobody is listening to everybody; everybody is bored.

So, the Round Table: An attempt at a company-wide, many-to-many meeting that isn't boring.

The rules are:

  • In order to attend the meeting, you must send the meeting organizer one slide, which can contain anything you want. The general theme is something you are doing or have learned, but generous interpretations are encouraged.
  • We provide an alternative if you're too busy to create a single slide—you can allow the organizer to choose a random image for you. Our first random image turned out to be a monkey in an Ikea parking lot. Our second was Weird Al in all his "Amish Paradise" glory.
  • Slides are placed in random order.
  • Every person gets 2 minutes to speak about their slide. Timed.
  • Everyone who participates gets candy, but I think that's more of a guideline than a rule.

Topics at the Round Tables have varied widely, from frustrating lessons learned over the past week, to celebrating impending releases, to cool podcasts, to how to write great sentences, to modern dance. In the first Round Table, our CEO, Josh, chose the random option, and took his prompt of the Ikea parking lot monkey into a brief discussion of biometrics.

Based on our first Round Tables, this is a great way for a team of about 25-30 people to keep in touch with each other. It doesn't take much preparation from the speakers, but it does give people some public speaking practice. The two-minute time limit seems to be enough to give an overview, but not so long that attentions wander, and anyone who wants to hear more about a given topic can follow up with the speaker one-on-one. As for those topics, they've veered wildly between serious and silly, and the variety has kept things fresh.

Let us know if you try a Round Table of your own.

Published in Culture

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