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What to Learn from Clubhouse about Running Awful Meetings

Clubhouse, the new audio social network has exploded onto the scene and it seems everyone is jumping in. I've been a Clubhouse user for a few months now and a long-time podcast listener. I expected to become a Clubhouse power-user. I thought I'd have my airpods in all-day-long listening to words of wisdom from the people I follow on Twitter.

But, although the app is intuitive and there's a lot of great content, I haven't found myself spending much time listening. You see for me, joining a Clubhouse room as a listener doesn't feel much different to joining a work conference call. In fact, somehow Clubhouse conversations seem to exhibit all the traits of a really bad meeting.

There's plenty of content out there about how to run a great meeting, so instead, here's what you can take away from the Clubhouse experience about how to have a really awful meeting...

Set no agenda

"Quite neat" - This is the title of a Clubhouse conversation in progress as I'm writing this post. There's no further information other than the names of 4-5 speakers. If the title isn't descriptive enough for you to understand what topics will be covered, you only need to enter the room and sit through the entire conversation (which has no defined end time👇).

Take-away: Before a meeting, never let the attendees know in advance what will be discussed (for fear that they may not attend). All you need is an ambiguous two-word meeting title ✨.

Ensure people join after the meeting starts

Clubhouse does an amazing job of sending push notifications. You can expect to be notified roughly 10 minutes after the conversation begins. The great thing about this is rather than sitting through introductions and context, you land mid-sentence with the challenge of figuring out what the topic is. To keep you on your toes, Clubhouse speakers may also join or leave halfway through the conversation.

Take-away: Allow meeting attendees to come and go as they please, and always leave your attendees guessing what's being discussed.

Leave no trace of the meeting once it's finished

Whatever happens in the Clubhouse room stays in the Clubhouse room. Or does it 🤔? Wait, it actually doesn't stay anywhere. If that 10 minute's late push notification wasn't enough notice for you to drop everything and listen-in, then I'm afraid you've missed out, sucker. You'd like to share something that was said in the meeting? You'd like to catch up on the meeting notes later? You snooze, you lose.

Take-away: Ensure the only way to get the information is to be in the meeting. Avoid any means for people to recall or share what was discussed.

Define no end-time

Clubhouse rooms roll on (sometimes for multiple hours) until the main participants drop off, or until there is simply nothing left to talk about. There's no defined end time, which I guess makes it easy for people to come and go as they please. The great thing about this is that the conversations can go organically in any direction. This gives everyone an opportunity to discover interesting facts - like finding out that guy you've never heard of, once raised an iguana in his college dorm-room.

Take-away: Setting a meeting end-time could constrain the conversation. To have a truly awful meeting you want to allow it to organically go in any direction.

Let speakers come totally unprepared

Clubhouse room moderators can invite listeners onto the stage to speak at any time during the meeting. Most people jump at this chance to voice their opinion, whether they're walking on the motorway or finishing their breakfast cereal; this is a great chance to demonstrate their knowledge or pitch their cousin's side-business.

Take-away: In order to maximise the number of speakers in a meeting, you want to ensure people can attend in any situation, and you certainly don't want to restrict speakers to only those with something interesting to say.

Make it unclear who's leading the meeting

A Clubhouse room can have one or many moderators. Sometimes the original moderator leaves the room, and a random person is assigned to be the moderator. This keeps the participants and guests guessing as to who is in charge. But, this doesn't really matter since most people have no idea how to run a good meeting anyway 🤷‍♂️.

Take-away: Ensure it's unclear who is running the meeting and allow anyone in the meeting to "take the ball and run with it".

Allow multiple people to talk at once (so the loudest can win)

The Clubhouse app has very few buttons, so it's very easy to tap that big microphone icon to speak (in fact, you'll most certainly tap it by accident). Speakers can speak at any time and since there is no defined order of speakers, you often get the benefit of hearing two people at the same time. Not everyone likes to share the stage, so if you want to ensure that you're the only one being heard, you simply need to speak louder.

Take-away: Allow people to speak at any time, and over each other, to ensure that the best idea wins. The person who speaks the loudest or interrupts the most, usually has the most important message.

Make it exclusive

Clubhouse built their brand on exclusivity. The app is only available on iOS devices, leaving out >70% of the population. Even if you do have an iPhone, you need an invitation to create an account. Since we humans are prone to want what is not accessible to us, this exclusivity makes more people want to join the discussion.

Take-away: Look for ways to make it impossible for more than 50% of your audience to participate. Perhaps run your next meeting in Portuguese... or, why not run it at the top of a mountain💡.

Clubhouse has done an amazing job at grabbing the attention of millions around the world. Most who have tried it, think it's the "next big thing". I think Clubhouse is fun and I want it to succeed. But, I believe in order for it to succeed it will need to move away from "Live" content. It's just too hard to find something interesting, high quality, AND happening right now. People also want to consume and contribute to interesting content when it suits their own schedule, rather than be interrupted and forced to drop what they're doing if they want to tune in.

We think that contributing to and consuming work-related content has the same challenges. Slack and Zoom are great real-time tools, but they require that everyone stops "working" to watch/read/respond right now. Trends towards the future of work, show that the world is moving away from real-time consumption and toward asynchronous consumption. We're excited to be building a tool that facilitates async communication in the workplace to help high-performing teams build better habits and work with more transparency, visibility, and connectivity.