Seth Godin posts on his blog about three types of meetings (see below.) His advice to us is not to confuse what type of meeting you are facilitating or attending.  When the type of meeting is agreed to and understood you have a  better chance of getting something done.

  1. Information. This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it’s primarily designed to inform.
  2. Discussion. This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
  3. Permission. This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.

I’ve definitely been in “Information” meetings framed as “Discussion” meetings.  It’s that awkward moment when the presenter (usually a higher zoned manager” asks “Does anyone have any questions or comments? Come on, don’t hold back.” And then there is that long period of silence with no one making eye contact.  The presenter in most cases did not set the stage or the environment for honest and open feedback.