Why meetings are like waiting for the train

Being in a meeting is a lot like waiting for the train.

No, I don’t mean that they both seems to take forever.

I mean they are both easier to deal with when you know what’s coming next and when.

Consider this. I used to live in Washington, DC, and when you had to wait for the train there, you never knew when it would come. So, you would sort of switch from foot to foot, look down the tracks for the train lights, and then go back to fidgeting.

It’s not like that anymore. A few years ago they installed displays that tell you how long until the next train comes and where it’s heading to. Now waiting is much easier to bear. There’s something reassuring to know that the Grovesnor train will come in 2 minutes, but that you’ll have to wait 5 for the train to Shady Grove.

The time displays don’t make the train come any quicker (but then neither did looking down to see the train lights), but somehow knowing when the train is coming and where it is going makes the waiting easier.

The same is true for a meeting, and that’s why an agenda is so important. If people know what to expect, it makes it easier for them to be present.

That’s why plays print programs.

That’s why churches print orders of service.

That’s why when I run a movie showing, I tell people, “We’ll show the movie, then take 20 minutes for small group discussion, then we’ll check in with the small groups.”

People feel more comfortable when they know what is coming and when. Make them comfortable. Have a plan for your meeting or event and share it with them.

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