Decoding Meeting Culture in Internet Companies: 5 Key Insights

Meetings are a high-frequency daily activity in some internet companies.

They firmly believe that meetings can solve all problems, and if they are not solved, then the meetings must not have been enough.

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01-Scheduled meetings and impromptu meetings.

There are two types of meetings: scheduled meetings and impromptu meetings.

Scheduled meetings, also known as fixed-point meetings, occur at regular intervals and have a set duration. They are an inevitable part of life for people in the internet industry.

The most common example is the weekly meeting, which takes place at the same time every week and serves as a bridge between the previous week and the upcoming week. It allows participants to reflect on the previous week’s successes and failures, and prepare for the challenges of the week ahead.

Impromptu meetings, on the other hand, have no set schedule and are full of unexpected “surprises”. They may be called at any time, such as on a Friday afternoon before the end of the workday.

What may seem like a simple “quick chat” can turn into a marathon tug-of-war.

02-Workplace Machinations and Hidden Costs

Employees may have “paid bathroom breaks” while bosses have “after-work meetings”, representing the two extremes of workplace cunning.

One shortens the workday, while the other extends overtime hours.

For young people in the internet industry, the hidden costs of “paid bathroom breaks” are all too familiar, and the price of “after-work meetings” has already been secretly set.

If you hear “everyone has worked hard” during an extended after-work meeting, don’t get too excited, because what follows may not be “let’s call it a day”, but rather “let’s order takeout together”.

03-The Illusion of Productivity in Brainstorming Meetings

Internet professionals love brainstorming meetings, but often nothing comes out of them. In the end, everyone is just assigned individual tasks to think about.

The most common outcome is setting a date for the next brainstorming session after a long and fruitless discussion.

04-The Pitfalls of “1C, Multiple Assist” Meetings

Regular meetings typically use a “1C, multiple assist” formation, where one person speaks and others supplement and agree.

These meetings often become endless and exhausting, and in the end, they become nothing more than a talkfest where decisions are discussed but not made, and actions are planned but not taken.

And the worst part is the awkward silence when a question is thrown out and no one jumps in to answer. In these situations, the meeting facilitator will often call on someone to speak, much like a teacher calling on a student in class. Everyone will avoid eye contact and lower their heads, hoping not to be singled out.

05-The Love-Hate Relationship between Meetings and PowerPoint Presentations

Meetings and PowerPoint presentations are a match made in heaven. They complement each other perfectly: meetings make the PowerPoint presentation the absolute star, while the PowerPoint fills up a lot of meeting time.

The magic of PowerPoint lies in taking something that could be explained in one page of Word and stretching it out to ten pages, endlessly extending the time.

06-The Fine Line between Camaraderie and Gossip in Meetings

Digressing and getting off topic is a common occurrence in meetings. Especially in internal department meetings, they often turn into gossip sessions. As soon as someone mentions a hot topic or gossip, the atmosphere becomes more lively than when discussing serious topics.

The purpose of meetings is to promote a sense of camaraderie among small groups: by closing the door, there is a greater sense of “we’re all in this together.”

07-How to Appear Engaged When You Have Nothing to Contribute

Some meetings have little to do with you, and you can’t speak up or take charge, and you have nothing to do after the meeting. But you’re still conscripted and dragged in to fill up the room. This is just to make the meeting seem grand and impressive. You can continue to work on your tasks, but just relocate from your desk to the meeting room. However, you should occasionally nod in agreement or pretend to be deep in thought to show that you’re still paying attention.

08-How Seasoned Professionals Stand Out from Inexperienced Interns

From what people bring to meetings, you can tell if they’re a seasoned professional. True veterans won’t shortchange themselves in meetings. In addition to using their computers as shields, they also bring blankets, charging devices, water bottles, pillows, seasonal fruits… They order an iced Americano before the meeting starts and occupy the best position, welcoming the meeting in the most comfortable posture.

Only inexperienced interns will bring only a notebook (or paper) and frantically take notes during the meeting. Therefore, they naturally become the meeting recorder, summarizing the minutes from long-winded speeches that no one will read.

09-Navigating Confrontational Meetings with Diplomacy

There is a type of meeting that is specifically designed for confrontation and argument, often seen in cross-departmental meetings. Both sides sit on opposite sides of the table, the atmosphere is tense, and a big battle is about to break out, with each side vying for the upper hand. Even in this situation, you can’t admit it outright and have to use some ambiguous language: “I’m not here to argue” = “I’m here to argue”; “I’m not targeting you” = “I am targeting you”.

10-The Rise of Convenience and the Importance of Staying Focused on Results

After the introduction of group chats, the frequency of video or voice conferences has far exceeded that of offline meetings. Whether it’s during commuting, before bed, or even on vacation, meetings can be held anytime and anywhere. It’s not uncommon to suddenly find yourself in a new group, discussing topics and being assigned tasks without any prior notice.

The worst part is probably cross-border meetings, where domestic schedules are often adjusted to accommodate those abroad. However, it’s important to remember that the purpose of a meeting is to achieve results, not just to hold a meeting itself.

So, let’s focus on discussing relevant matters and disperse when there’s nothing left to discuss!


Author: Fiona Berton

Founder of Huddles, Meeting Effectiveness Expert

Deeply accompanying the organizational evolution of agile transformation in enterprises.

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