Summary of The Surprising Science of Meetings

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  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


Many managers regard inefficient, unproductive or boring meetings as an unavoidable business flaw. Professor Steven G. Rogelberg challenges this assumption with ideas on how to stop wasting time and energy by facilitating better meetings. He bases his advice on research, best practices and surveys. Rather than cancelling meetings, he says, improve them by being mindful and skillful about their design and delivery. He suggests short “standing meetings,” which offer health benefits, satisfaction and efficiency. To improve your meeting culture, try his smart strategies. 

About the Author

Steven G. Rogelberg is professor of organizational science, management and psychology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He researches, teaches and consults with large organizations on meeting science. 



Acknowledge that meetings can cause a lot of frustration, and assess your meetings to seek improvements.

Everyone needs to meet for team discussions, interdepartment alignment and group decision making. But everyone needs to meet effectively. Meetings can cause frustration, especially when they waste time and energy due to a bad meeting culture.

Think of the opportunity costs: While you’re stuck with your colleagues in a meeting, you all could be spending time doing real work. When your company manages meetings effectively, meetings add to productivity and organizational cohesion. And when it doesn’t, they add to cost. In 2014, meetings cost the United States’ economy about $1.4 trillion – roughly 8% of the nation’s GDP that year.

Rather than getting rid of meetings, solve your problems with them by applying science.

Employees have no lack of cynicism when it comes to meetings. Yet getting rid of all meetings is not feasible. Without meetings, you would lose contact with your colleagues, disconnect from other departments and become single-minded about difficult problems. Rather than eliminating meetings...

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Comment on this summary

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    M. K. 7 months ago
    Awesome tips.
  • Avatar
    D. K. 1 year ago
    Great tips!
  • Avatar
    M. K. 1 year ago
    More relevant & very good points for a good meeting
  • Avatar
    K. K. 1 year ago
    very important tips over here, i love it
  • Avatar
    B. G. 1 year ago
    Some good point in here. Would have liked to get tips on virtual meetings. Rarely are meeting audio only.
  • Avatar
    T. S. 1 year ago
    Really good there a way to structure a good agenda for better meeting atmosphere
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    H. W. 2 years ago
    Isn’t there a section where the author recommends to structure the agenda with questions? At least I heard him say that in an interview. If so, it would be a key idea to add into the summary here.
    • Avatar
      Karen Londo 2 years ago
      Hi Herbert, Thank you for your comment.
      We went back to the book to check on your query. The author mentions questions in his discussion of agenda setting in a couple of contexts, but not in terms of structuring the agenda using questions.
      He suggests writing to attendees three to five days in advance asking if they have agenda items to include and why they want to include them.
      He also suggests having a Q&A session at the end of meetings, but limiting it to an announced number of questions. He says agendas should focus on goals and decisions that require group interaction. He also offers questions the meeting manager should ask in deciding on a list of attendees, such as, who has the necessary information and knowledge. Hope that helps. The book is very applicable and we recommend it highly.
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    T. M. 2 years ago
    Excellent takeaways for creating successful meeting