HiPPO Pizza Anyone?

19 July 2021

Jeff Bezos’ 2 pizza rule is a useful guideline for deciding how many attendees should be invited to a meeting.

In theory, meetings should be small enough so attendees could be fed with two large pizzas to discourage Groupthink and HiPPO, ('Highest Paid Person's Opinion').

Virtual meetings have necessitated (mostly) a reduced number of attendees: “I’m sorry, you go…”/ “No sorry, I was just saying..”/ “What were you saying?”/ “Sorry, we missed that” / “Did you say something?”. Six people suddenly speak at once. Silence. Repeat.

Now that many of us are starting to return to the office, increasingly in-person meetings are going to become part of our daily lives once again. And I am looking forward to it. We are hardwired to pick up on the subtle conversational nuances of hand gestures, facial expressions, posture and even physical touch like a handshake. Body language is an indispensable part of communication.

Smaller meetings can generate a feeling of intimacy which often leads to bolder and franker discussions. Fewer participants also mean more time to listen to and consider another perspective. In turn, the group members feel heard and respected, making them more productive.

So, when you are invited to that in-person meeting, (apart from eating the pizza), what can you do to make an impact?

  • Be prepared – don’t be tempted to wing it. You can’t pretend your signal dropped while you root around in your files for the statistics you need.
  • Make sure you are on time. You can’t blame internet connectivity problems if you are in the room. You might think being late makes you look like you’re super busy, but it just looks like you can’t manage your time - or worse, that this meeting isn’t that important to you - or even worse, that you like to go on power trips by making people wait for your grand entrance (I hate that).
  • Pay attention –and not just the bits in which you are interested. You can no longer turn off your camera to do something else. Don’t come across as selfish, disinterested or arrogant and remember to leave your mobile somewhere else (no one is that important).

But, with all the excitement of actually being with real people once again, don’t hog the floor. Be a thought-leader - articulate your expertise and express your point of view, but don’t try to be the smartest person in the room -  you don’t want arrogance to be your most memorable trait.

Lorri Lowe
Partner, London


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