Stand up for shorter meetings

I have a confession.

It’s not something of which I’m proud.

When I was a reporter in Torquay, I had dealings with one of the most tedious men I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across.

He was at the helm of a one-man campaign to get more recognition for an equally tedious historical figure, and so regularly beat a path to the Herald Express’s offices.

He also had a very bad leg.

And so, to shorten our encounters, I never used to offer him a seat.

I forced him to stand – awkwardly and painfully – to recite the latest twist in his yawn-inducing crusade.

As I said, I now feel a sense of deep shame.

And yet. And yet.

There’s an awful lot to be said for standing meetings.

Last week, a new initiative was launched to encourage the country’s office workers to spend more time on their feet, and less on their behinds.

On top of the health benefits, it is said that kicking out the chairs in meetings can cut their length by around 25 per cent as well.

I’ve set a group of colleagues who show the potential to be the editors of the future the challenge of looking at how we can improve the efficiency of all editorial meetings – particularly the various conferences which punctuate our working days.

One of the earliest ideas was to experiment with the kind of cool, snappy (sometimes in both senses), news meetings seen on the wonderful Scandinavian series Borgen.

In case the whole Nordic Noir thing has passed you by, the key reporters, presenters, producers and editors at TV1 News plan their coverage gathered around a high desk – with not a chair in sight.

A colleague in one of the newsrooms I visit has taken all this a step further, buying a stand on which to put his screen so that he spends all day on his feet. Now that the initial jokes about fast food orders and pulpits have worn off, it seems to be going well.

The On Your Feet Britain initiative aims to get all of us standing on its big campaign day, April 24. The suggestion is that we stand during phone calls, stand to take a break from our computer every 30 minutes, have standing or even walking meetings, and stand at the back of the room during presentations.

As it happens, that’s the next date of our Editor of the Future programme, so we might be able to give it a go.

But I’m afraid I’m invigilating an NCTJ exam in the afternoon.

And they’re not that keen on people standing up and walking around once those papers have been handed out.


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