Ep 83: You’re Doing Meetings All Wrong (with Priya Parker)

by Joan Garry

Learn from my guest Priya Parker how to create super effective meetings, resolve tough conflicts, and throw killer dinner parties.


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Imagine for a moment that your next board meeting is both ridiculously meaningful and productive. Everyone is engaged and leaves knowing their next actionable steps.

Sounds pretty great, no?

Creating transformative gatherings is both the topic of my guest Priya Parker’s book and a necessary narrative for anything from effective meetings, to conflict resolution, to killer dinner parties.

Written out of pain, frustration, and anger at gatherings that did not achieve their purpose, this author and founder of Thrive Labs, has become well known for her book The Art of Gathering and for her TEDx talk on purpose.

So how exactly does the desire to belong and become drive the process of a meaningful gathering and how can an aware leader design for that? What creates transformative experiences that makes meetings worth having?

Whether you are planning a wedding, a staff retreat or a family reunion, our guest today offers us invaluable and actionable advice on creating successful gatherings.

About Priya

Priya Parker is a facilitator and strategic advisor. She is the founder of Thrive Labs, at which she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. She works with teams and leaders across technology, business, the arts, fashion, and politics to clarify their vision for the future and build meaningful, purpose-driven communities.

Her clients have included the Museum of Modern Art, LVMH, the World Economic Forum, meetup.com, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, the Union for Concerned Scientists, and Civitas Public Affairs.

Trained in the field of conflict resolution, Parker has worked on race relations on American college campuses and on peace processes in the Arab world, southern Africa, and India. She is a founding member of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network. She has been appointed a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Values Council and the New Models of Leadership Council. She is also a senior expert at Mobius Executive Leadership.

Priya is the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (Riverhead Books, 2018). She is passionate about helping people create gatherings in their work and life that are transformative and meaningful for the people in them. She is also the co-creator of the 15 Toasts dinner series format and I Am Here Days. Her TEDx talk on purpose has been viewed more than 1 million times.

Priya studied organizational design at M.I.T., public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and political and social thought at the University of Virginia. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Anand Giridharadas, and their two children.

In this episode

  • The magic of purpose
  • The correct role of PowerPoint
  • What happens when meaning comes from things versus people?
  • Can simply sharing information be enough to make a meeting successful?
  • What is the essential question a meeting must answer?
  • How to achieve better gatherings
  • What to think about when tackling content and process
  • How important is it to frame a gathering with an agenda?
  • When people have competing agendas