The best books to navigate out of meeting hell

Why am I passionate about this?

As an organizational psychologist, I am driven to study and work to improve work activities that are causing great frustration and not working effectively—meetings are the perfect fit. And, for 20 years I have been actively publishing in this space and have spoken to well over 100,000 leaders through my keynotes/events/videos. What excites me is that meeting science can truly help leaders, teams, and organizations. The books I recommend are well-aligned with the science, and can be difference makers. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful.  

I wrote...

Book cover of The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

What is my book about?

While we often think about meetings as being places of drain, meetings done well can actually be places of personal and team gain. The key, leveraging evidence-based practices to make meetings genuinely engaging and inclusive. The goal, better meetings and people leaving your meetings energized and feeling valued, rather than frustrated, and suffering from meeting recovery syndrome. Most companies and leaders view poor meetings as an inevitable cost of doing business. But managers can take heart: researchers now have a clear understanding of the key drivers that make meetings successful.

One of the ten leadership books to watch for by The Washington Post and one of the top business books everybody will be reading by Business Insider. As seen on CBS This Morning.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did I love this book?

This is a really unique and different meeting book – it basically teaches about how to run meeting effectively by inserting them naturally into a fable. The fable is really quite engaging and something most of us can relate to. The learnings, although not extensive, align quite well with the science. Overall it is a fun and informative book.

By Patrick M. Lencioni,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death by Meeting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life. In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch. 'How could my life have unravelled so quickly?' he wondered. In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centred around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of…

Book cover of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did I love this book?

There are many reasons to really like this book. It is certainly thoughtful, intriguing, and well-grounded. The advice and guidance around meetings are plentiful and meaningful. I particularly appreciated that it addresses meeting practices that high-performing organizations use to drive results and build an excellent meeting culture. Overall, I appreciate the systems-based approach to addressing meeting issues.

By J. Elise Keith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Action Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How well you meet determines what your group can achieve

When you ask leaders in a high performing organization about the key to their success, the answers are all over the place: failing fast, radical transparency, operational excellence, strong core values... so many different North Stars to follow.

Then, if you ask them for an example–to tell you what that looks like in practice–they will all describe a meeting. Leaders at these organizations have learned to design a sequence of tailored meetings that create a healthy organizational culture and drive forward momentum. They know that meetings are where the action…

Book cover of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did I love this book?

This book is chock full of good ideas and thoughts on how to gather effectively. It is very easy to read. Lots of great stories to help bring the content to life and engage the reader. She goes beyond just meetings at work, discussing a broader set of informal and formal gatherings in a variety of settings.

By Priya Parker,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Art of Gathering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Hosts of all kinds, this is a must-read!" --Chris Anderson, owner and curator of TED
From the host of the New York Times podcast Together Apart, an exciting new approach to how we gather that will transform the ways we spend our time together—at home, at work, in our communities, and beyond.

In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive--which they don't have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when…

Book cover of Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did I love this book?

The book takes on a very tricky meeting type, hybrid meetings. It is easy to read and has a nice set of evidence-based practices to elevate these meetings. As we move past Covid, this is a helpful resource to managers as they meet in our new normal. I really enjoyed the discussion of challenges and best practices from research to overcome.  

By Karin M. Reed, Joseph A. Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suddenly Hybrid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the challenges and opportunities of hybrid meetings with this science-based guide from an Emmy-award winning communications expert and renowned organizational psychologist

As remote work becomes less of an unusual exception and more of an everyday necessity, hybrid meetings-meetings in which some attendees are physically present while others are virtually present-are becoming the norm.

In Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting, Emmy award-winning communications expert Karin Reed and veteran industrial and organizational psychologist Dr. Joseph A. Allen deliver a practical and actionable framework for attending, hosting, and managing hybrid meetings. The authors draw from their extensive experience in research and…

Book cover of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did I love this book?

This is not a book about meetings per se, but a book about effective conversations. Clearly, conversation is at the heart of meetings. The book provides many tips for improving interpersonal communication. So many of the learnings from this book can be applied to meeting leaders and meeting attendees alike. It is easy to read and definitely a good complement to your more traditional meetings books.

By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan , Al Switzler

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Crucial Conversations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and Washington Post bestseller that changed the way millions communicate

"[Crucial Conversations] draws our attention to those defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships, and our world. . . . This book deserves to take its place as one of the key thought leadership contributions of our time."
-from the Foreword by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"The quality of your life comes out of the quality of your dialogues and conversations. Here's how to instantly uplift your crucial conversations."
-Mark Victor Hansen, cocreator of the #1…

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Book cover of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

Michael Bungay Stanier Author Of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coaching is a wonderful technology that can help people be a force for change… and is often wrapped up in mystic and woo-woo and privilege that makes it inaccessible and/or unattractive to too many. I want being more coach-like—by which I mean staying curious a little longer, and rushing to action and advice-giving—to be an everyday way of being with one another. Driven by this, I’ve written the best-selling book on coaching this century (The Coaching Habit) and have created training that’s been used around the world by more than a quarter of a million people. I’m on a mission to unweird coaching.

Michael's book list on unexpectedly useful books about coaching

What is my book about?

The coaching book that's for all of us, not just coaches.

It's the best-selling book on coaching this century, with 15k+ online reviews. Brené Brown calls it "a classic". Dan Pink said it was "essential".

It is practical, funny, and short, and "unweirds" coaching. Whether you're a parent, a teacher, a leader, or even a coach, you can stay curious longer.

By Michael Bungay Stanier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Coaching Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Look for Michael's new book, The Advice Trap, which focuses on taming your Advice Monster so you can stay curious a little longer and change the way you lead forever.

In Michael Bungay Stanier's The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact.

Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your peoples' potential. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how-by saying less and…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in hell, self-actualization, and fables?

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