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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Going Topless for More Effective Meetings

Written By: Jan Wencel | Comments Off on Going Topless for More Effective Meetings
Results is the Name of the Game

While there has been a movement towards eliminating meetings, many businesses absolutely need them.  Even if you are a solopreneur, you may have meeting requirements with collaborators, contractors and other partners.  Jan Wencel, who is a time management, productivity and organization expert, talks about how going topless can improve meeting efficiency and efficacy…

JW: A growing number of businesses are mandating “topless” meetings. I’m not talking skins versus shirts. I’m talking no laptops, CrackBerrys, iPhones and the like. The impetus behind the movement: distracted workers tuning out in the middle and people making more eye contact with screens than one another.

In Death by Meeting, author Patrick Lencioni offers advice for creating meetings so immersed in human connectivity, laptop temptations could vanish. Consider these recommendations he claims result in faster and better decisions, higher morale and greater bottom-line results: 

Add drama to the boardroom and never get bored
Lencioni refreshingly suggests a gathering of intelligent people naturally and productively reveals different points of view. To suppress these disagreements, he explains, leads to boring meetings. He proposes the meeting leader of strategic meetings regularly seek out and uncover opposing viewpoints (“mining for conflict”) and the contributors embrace the clash, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Assign different contextual rules and watch effectiveness climb
With worthy motive, Lencioni recommends more, not fewer, meetings. He describes the tendency of most companies to throw every type of issue into the same meeting. He proposes adopting the following multiple structures to manage different meeting content and participant expectations:

  • Daily Check-Ins; 5 minutes; share daily schedule and activities; don’t sit (huddle); keep administrative; don’t cancel
  • Weekly Tacticals; 45-90 minutes; review weekly activities, metrics and resolve tactical obstacles; set agenda in real time after round-the-table 60-second reporting; review 4-5 key metrics; postpone strategic discussions
  • Monthly/Ad Hoc Strategics; 2-4 hours; discuss, analyze, brainstorm critical issues affecting long-term success; limit to 1-2 topics; prepare and do research; engage in good conflict
  • Quarterly Off-Site Reviews; 1-2 days; review strategy, industry trends, competitive landscape, team development; get out of office; limit social activities; don’t over structure or overburden schedule


If you want to initiate a meeting cultural shift, start by calculating how proposed change alters roles. Inform others of the change by outlining the rule, reason, and consequences (a must!). Expect challenges, and be ready to call it when you see it. Done right, social pressure will soon preside.

Who knows? Instead of people feeling naked when they show up for a meeting without their laptop, they’ll decide to attend intentionally topless.

Article written by Jan Wencel
Jan Wencel is a certifiable GTD/inbox zero nerd. Large companies hire her to teach their employees productivity habits to get work contained and on track so life can happen. She is the President of Life Contained, Inc., a productivity training consultancy & professional organizing business providing group training, process consulting, hands-on problem solving & product sourcing for businesses & individuals in their workplace. Reach Jan at or   CR: Thanks to Jan for reminding us how focus can lead to better results.