Daniel Zhang, CEO of the multi-billion-dollar online marketplace company Alibaba, thinks meetings are “among the worst formats for sharing information”.
How many times have you sat in on a work meeting where you’re just watching presentations and being talked at? Too many, probably.
While companies often use meetings to share updates, Zhang thinks this approach is wrong. Speaking with Fast Company, he talked about how he runs meetings at Alibaba.
He will get his teams to share all relevant presentation materials with him before each meeting:
“I try to get all the facts lined up before the meeting and use the meeting itself for discussion, debates, and decision making. That way we can use the time together to look for weaknesses in our strategy or line of thinking.
“… On a day-to-day basis, meetings aren’t the place for getting everyone up to speed. They’re for finding your weak points and debating how to fix them.”
Sounds good. But he goes on to reveal that he would give people who are presenting a bit of a grilling:
“Typically, I start out with some basic questions that let me poke around and see if the person presenting actually knows their stuff. If he or she can respond to some of my random questioning right up front, then it’s a good sign they’ve done their homework. Those who flounder generally haven’t thought everything through thoroughly. When I get the sense that’s the case, I’ll usually press forward with some additional questions so we can get straight to uncovering any holes in our approach.”
You can read more of Zhang’s leadership advice over at Fast Company.