I find this interview with Jeff Bezos fascinating. In it he talks about how he conducts his top executive meetings:
Meetings of his “S-team” of senior executives begin with participants quietly absorbing the written word. Specifically, before any discussion begins, members of the team — including Bezos — consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes.
“They’re (new hires) just not accustomed to sitting silently in a room and doing study hall with a bunch of executives.” Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group’s undivided attention. Writing a memo is an even more important skill to master. “Full sentences are harder to write,” he says. “They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”
I bet that’s a great way to start meetings. Anything to get people off their laptops and phones and get real conversations to occur. But I bet the real benefit is that before the meeting happens, someone has to write those memos which ensures that there is an actual reason to have the meeting!