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Museum Staff and Meeting Horror Shows

  1. Be respectful. Show up on time; if you're using some form of technology, test it first. Seat people so they can see one another's faces.

  2. Have an agenda. If you haven't taken the time to strategize about where this meeting should take your department, team or staff, what does that tell those attending?

  3. Stick to your agenda. Appoint a time keeper if that helps. Yes, it's wonderful to see staff involved and passionate about a given subject/project, but if a topic is that important, it can likely wait for its own meeting. So be prepared to shut off discussion, and appoint someone to move the topic ahead in another venue.

  4. Ask your colleagues to close laptops and put away phones. Being present is being wholly present.

  5. Begin with a check-in. Ask participants for a 0ne-minute summation of their week. This is one of many bridging activities that clear peoples' heads for the work ahead. You may have other ways of checking in.

  6. Follow the check-in by confirming assignments from previous meetings are moving forward. This is not the opportunity to call anyone out in public, but simply to acknowledge work on ongoing projects.

  7. Set aside time for the big-topic issues. Let your staff know your goals ahead of time.

  8. Make time for creativity. Every staff needs to know its ideas are valued. Keep track of new ideas. Make sure the good ones are developed. But be wary of becoming obsessed. Not every shiny object is worth picking up, and innovation for its own sake is a dead end.

  9. Take minutes and send out a post-meeting summation of what happened.

  10. End on time. And thank everyone. If you are a participant:

  11. Be on time. Leave your laptop at your desk and turn your phone off.

  12. Leave your bad day at the door. Give your colleagues your respectful attention.

  13. Help shift the conversation if it starts to drift into the weeds.

  14. Summarize what you don't understand. By doing that you not only clarify your own thinking, but may help colleagues too reticent to ask themselves. For example: So our assignment is to outline the programming that will accompany the exhibit on ancient manuscripts. And you would like to see us experiment how?

  15. Read the meeting's email summation and make sure that what you think happened and what you're responsible for are the same as what your chair, department head or director has written. Last, whether you're a participant or a meeting leader, bring some self-awareness to meetings. Reflect on what happened. Acknowledge what was great and what could have gone better. Recalibrate. Go forward. Joan H. Baldwin


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