How do people run big group meetings?

Last week we had our first meeting of the new semester and we decided to try something “new”. In fact we went back to how we ran things back in the olden days: we take the total meeting time and divide it equally between people who are online, and everyone gives an update. In many ways, this is really how we want group meeting to go. The whole point is that, since group members work on such a broad range of topics, we want to have an opportunity to hear what everyone else has been up to. The goal is to identify shared interests and encourage collaborations across research areas.

This time (unlike the olden days), we had 18 group members (or collaborators working actively on a project with a group member) online (and that isn’t even the whole group these days - I’m not complaining!). This meant that even with 90 minutes, the updates had to be very short and the whole thing felt like quite a whirlwind (and I needed to take a nap after logging off). As a result, I’m not going to write up a summary of all the awesome work that folks are doing. Instead, I want to ask if anyone has advice or thoughts about running big group meetings like this.

Overall, it seems like the group appreciated this format, but agrees that it might be a bit overwhelming to do it every week. So the current plan is to proceed with the format from the summer (a shared slide deck where group members can choose to add a slide and then share a 10 minute update with some discussion) for most meetings, and then about once a month we would have a whirlwind update from everyone. I don’t love this option, because this meeting is often the only time that I get updates from many group members. But, we haven’t been able to identify a format that helps to make sure that everyone gets and opportunity to share. We’d love to hear if there are other groups out there doing interesting things with their meetings. We’re always keen to try experiments, especially since we’ll be staying fully-remote for the foreseeable future!

If you have thoughts, please Tweet at me or send me an email (should be easy to find!)