Stand Up For The 34pc Effect

As I wrote in the relevant chapter of my 52 Ways To Get What You Want From Virtual Meetings book I first came across meetings without chairs at an Architects. Then discovered by the dotcommers who embraced them. There’s an old Easyjet fly-on-the-wall where the founder and close crew are shown to do it, right in the middle of an open plan office.

I myself liked to do them, especially outside offices in sunny climes. Beneath a particular tree alongside a brook becoming a favourite spot.

The pic above is stock imagery from '22 of a supposed then contemporary hybrid meeting. All six attendees - including the two separately dialling-in - appear to be standing.

Indeed, although likely staged, that scene portrays a trio of remarkable trends.

The first possibly being that the venue the quartet share looks totally unsuited to host a successful video meeting. Bereft as it is, of any vertical real estate for messaging or vital props purpose. As well as the mystifying positioning of said foursome, rendering most of them surely out-of-range from any webcams around. All that before we get to the fact that they seem to have set up in a gangway.

Second, you gotta love that real-life size portrait screen on wheels though. I smiled a tear thinking back to my first-ever video meeting version of this in '98. Much more of this is coming. And will especially push the blended stand-up meet-up.

Finally, the very fact all attendees are stood is the future. Well, a future for those that want to improve their Sales, at any rate.

Which leads us onto what type of meeting best fits this mode?

When considering historic instances, one common format prevails. Namely the rubber-stamp. Motions are read out one at a time. Instead of a division - where attendees would split into For or Against camps - each in turn states their position in singular formal manner. Such as (citing Westminster's House of Lords protocol) "Content" or "Not-content". The 'Yays' duly marked off, and the 'Nays'/'Noes' status dealt with perhaps in subsequent fora.

Nowadays, such approval cabinets can still lend themselves to everyone being upstanding. Should you have a relatively small number of issues upon which you require knowledge of where everyone stands, then this can help.

Elsewhere in general, a Missouri University study of 1999 gets cited.

It assessed 56 five member groups standing versus 55 five member groups sitting.

Stand-up length was 34% shorter.

And decision quality remained the same.

That's quite the double-bubble finding.

(Regardless of its psychology lab setting of the 'Lost on the Moon' exercise.)

Who wouldn't want to get the same done whilst they slice a third off their meeting times?

One Harvard article back in 2006 built on this by posing the tantalising question;

But do the math. Take energy giant Chevron, which has over 50,000 employees. If each employee replaced just one 20-minute sit-down meeting per year with a stand-up meeting, each of those meetings would be about seven minutes shorter. That would save Chevron over 350,000 minutes—nearly 6,000 hours—per year.

What’s your equation look like?

Beyond the clear internal bonus, why not consider how can you do this with prospects?

Whether in the office, or especially if remote, then you’ve likely been sitting in front of your computer all day. Surely the chance to not sit would be a boon?

Wouldn't they feel more engaged?

I once read a blogger basically wonder, '...don't remember Darth Vader sitting in many meetings aboard the Death Star'.

In those faint, quaint Golden Age days before 2020, many heralded the rise of stand-up meetings. Some acknowledging the Millennium-born march of 'agile' in coding. With guidelines offered for status updates and roll-call agendas that remove endless, aimless, thoughtless pontification (& from early Lockdown too).

Complex decision-making may need fuller sculpting. Yet for check-ins, single issue discussion and specifically focused idea generation, the stand-up should be a useful go-to. Ensure your participants can adjust their rig to accommodate decent webcam alignment when stood. Try standing in front of a flipchart easel or whiteboard. Have a tablet, clipboard or large-ish notepad/book to hand. And let them buy.

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