One of the staples of an academic lab is the so-called "lab meeting". I remember lab meeting as this frightening event where suddenly all eyes are pointed towards you and your science gets assessed by your peers and your professor. Will it be thumbs up or down? Will I get asked to do another year of boring control experiments? You get the idea. These are typically weekly meetings that often last one to two hours and assume various formats but it often boils down to trainees getting up and giving updates on their science. In my group, we spent some time thinking about lab meeting and decided to make some changes, here are our thoughts, in the hope they may help others make lab meetings more productive and fun.
We meet weekly for two hours and we have a shared spreadsheet where people add what they want to discuss to a queue together with an estimate how much time it will take. Every week, we work through that queue during the meeting (being flexible if urgent stuff has come up to ignore the order of the queue). There is explicit encouragement to present small and preliminary things, perhaps a single plot, a question about experimental design, a confusing result etc. So far, the meetings were highly productive and lots of fun since everyone learned a lot. Mission accomplished...