What’s wrong with meetings?

Ever walk out of a meeting feeling unsure about whether you’ve actually got what you came for?  Join the club.  What went wrong?

If you don’t spend time before the meeting working out what you need to get out of the meeting, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.  (If you really want to spend your meeting figuring out why you’ve pulled people away from their bread-and-butter work then go ahead, but be prepared for them to be a bit testy about it.)

Hey, be kind to yourself. It’s totally understandable.  When you’ve planned meetings in the past it’s taken up your precious time, it felt like re-inventing the wheel each meeting, and maybe after all that effort you still didn’t get the results you were hoping for.

But what if planning your meeting was quick, easy, and gave you a level of clarity that you haven’t felt in a long time?

What if all it took was one sentence?

The meeting plan formula

Here’s the easiest formula for planning your meeting that you’ll ever find:

I need to (insert purpose here) around (insert topic here), and by the end of the meeting we will (insert outcomes here).

Typically, you’re clear on your topic prior to the meeting, but you haven’t given enough thought to the purpose for this specific meeting, or the outcomes you need to achieve.  Spending 5 minutes on these two areas alone will result in the kind of meeting clarity most people dream of.

Let’s break it down.

Your meeting purpose

Here are six possible purposes for your meeting (or for an individual agenda item on your meeting.)

• To pass on information

• To collect information

• To solve a problem

• To come up with ideas

• To draw up a plan

• To make a decision

Which one applies to your meeting?

Your meeting topic

This is the subject matter being covered.  It’s the “stuff” of your meetings.  You know this stuff.

Are you meeting about an upcoming event?  A glitch in a system?  To gather business requirements? To update people on the status of Project X?

Your meeting outcome

What do you need to have in your hot little hands when you walk out of the meeting?

Get specific about what will have been achieved by the end of the meeting if this meeting were 100% successful.

Putting it all together

Here’s what your meeting plan might look like.

I need to come up with ideas around what goes into the next software release, and by the end of the meeting we will have a list of the top 5 issues with the current release as well as the top 5 new features we will recommend to the design team.

Imagine walking into your meeting with that one sentence 

Will it make it easy to communicate your plan to your meeting attendees, clearly and precisely? Will it be easier to notice when the meeting has gone off track?  When you walk out of the meeting, will you know whether you’ve accomplished what you planned to accomplish?

Don’t doom your next meeting by not planning what you want from it.

After all, it only takes one sentence.

Debbie Thompson is a leadership coach who combines her years in leadership positions with her love of coaching high achievers to outstanding results.  She works to help managers, leaders and business owners master that “leadership thing” so that they get more clarity, have more impact, and multiply their influence.