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Think On Your Feet: Rising to the Occasion of Standing Meetings

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Ever feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland frantically rushing around the office exclaiming, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date/meeting?” Well, what if I told you there’s a way to help alleviate some of that hysteria and cut down meeting times with a little something called “Standing Meetings?”

Riding on the recent buzz surrounding standing desks, standing meetings have begun to permeate more and more throughout office spaces. A recent study conducted by the Smithsonian Institute stated not using standing desks can result in the following: impacts to metabolism, affects the onset of type 2 diabetes and is positively correlated with breast, prostate and lung cancer. Hopefully you don’t need to sit down while this all sinks in.

With standing meetings there are tons of other benefits in addition to the existing ones created by becoming a standing desk advocate, including:

  • Subtraction to Distractions: Sitting down around a conference room table, it’s easy to squeeze in a few emails, check a notification on your tablet while “taking meeting notes” or scribbling doodles in your notebook. These are distractions. However, with a standing meeting it’ll be a little more awkward taking out these distractions while standing around in a circle.
  • Sharing is Caring: According to a study by the Washington University Olin Business School, standing meetings increase sharing of information and ideas, which leads to more collaborative and creative outputs.
  • No Fortresses of Solitude Allowed: With sitting meetings, individuals surround themselves with papers, notebooks, phones, etc. This creates a super individually oriented and territorial environment less conducive to the free flow of information and ideas.
  • Express Yourself: Standing meetings allow for meeting-goers to better express themselves and command more attention by being fully present, literally.
  • Energizer Bunnies: By standing while meeting with your colleagues, the body naturally releases endorphins, which increases your energy level and alertness. So you can keep on going and going and going and…
  • Time is Money: A recent study released by New York Magazine stated standing meetings reduce meeting times by 34%. That’s more time back in your pocket, which means higher work productivity which equals more money made and saved.

Execution

If by reading this you’ve decided to not table this discussion, then it’s time to figure out some ways to run a standing meeting. According to a man named Colonel Eddie Rosado aka my Dad who runs standing meetings for his staff, he recommends asking meeting goers to only provide “hot items” when communicating in a standing meeting. When he was stationed in Hawaii he called these “Lava Rocks.” Maybe if your job is in Idaho, they could be called “Hot Potatoes” or Alaska, “Snow Balls?” Be creative.

Other standing meetings pass around a medicine ball when the team is debriefing everyone on updates. Teammates are less inclined to take longer to speak since the medicine ball is literally wearing them down. The study by Washington University also recommends having a central focal point during the meeting like a white board. This fosters collaboration and allows for an easy way to compile and write down takeaways from the meeting.

Considerations

While standing meetings carry a healthy amount of benefits, some considerations to think about when running one are:

  • Keep standing to no more than 30 minutes. Standing past this amount of time can increase the odds of developing varicose veins (yikes!). In the event your meeting goes past the 30-minute mark, encourage your team to sit down if they would like.
  • Be careful with how you word the introduction of standing meetings. Meeting goers should stand for the meeting but they don’t have to. However, if they sit it will look a little odd if they’re the only one sitting. Just saying.
  • Individuals with back problems, pregnant or with disabilities should not be encouraged to stand in a standing meeting.

Standing meetings may not be suitable for all offices but should be a concept your colleagues should meet halfway in implementing. Hopefully these tips and suggestions help you land on your feet next time your meeting is standing room only. Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences with standing meetings.

Ryan Rosado is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Sonja Armstrong

Two random thoughts:
-Standing meetings are frequently on the Top 10 Productivity Hack lists
-15-minute daily stand-up meetings are the norm in the Agile/Scrum community

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Profile Photo Ryan Rosado

Thanks for your comment Sonja :)! I had to look up Agile and Scrum communities haha. But it makes sense they use standing meetings; they have a lot to get done and their specialties require them to think outside the box a lot.

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