Every meeting has to have clear purpose, objectives/desired outcomes, and most valuable players who can contribute to certain objectives. Don’t schedule a meeting unless you understand its purpose. Where appropriate, make a choice to solve problems using alternative methods, i.e. email, text, personal phone call, etc. Ineffective and disorganized meetings will not bring value to your team or customers. On the contrary, you, as an organizer, will waste others’ time, add stress to their day, or even lose credibility over time.
Part One: Clearly Define the Purpose, the Reason, and the Desired Outcomes
Step 1. Describe the need, challenge or success you want to celebrate.
Team had a lot of conflicts lately, and there is a need to bring everyone together
Team has been outperforming and requires recognition
Project team hasn’t been introduced to each other
Project plan hasn’t been announced/reviewed
Customer is unaware of the progress of the project
There is a need to create innovative solution to improve process/product
Project has been completed and there is a need to review the outcomes
Celebrate a special occasion
There is a need to review progress of the initiative that involves cross-functional teams
There is a need to communicate a vision, goals, strategy
Step 2. Ask yourself three questions before deciding if a meeting is needed:
Is input from others required?
Is real time conversation needed to make progress or to resolve a challenge?
Is the meeting going to be the only way to resolve a challenge or communicate a message?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, STOP HERE. A meeting is unnecessary. If YES, move to Step 3.
Step 3. Write down at least three potential ways to address the challenge or celebration. Then, select the best option.
An example of challenge: A customer is unaware of the progress of the project and needs to be brought up to speed.
First, schedule a face to face, web, video, or phone meeting with the core internal team to decide on key points and responsibilities of what and how to communicate to the customer. Once a clear plan is in place, and the key accountable players have been identified, schedule a meeting with the customer.
Ask the project manager to email you the status of the project, and follow up with the questions either by phone or email. Then, set up a meeting with the core team to agree on the agenda, responsibilities, and the next steps. Set up a call with the core team and the customer.
Ask the project manager to inform the core team by email of an upcoming call with the customer. The email will clearly outline the purpose and agenda for the call. Ask for any input by email or through a project portal. Following that, set up a call with the customer and the project manager. Send a recap or a recorded meeting to the team.
Part Two: Plan Your Meeting
Step 4: List a core team that can resolve a challenge and help with celebration.
Unless it is a Town Hall meeting or an All Hands call that requires everyone’s attention, only invite those who will contribute to the progress
Write down specific responsibilities or topic each person needs to address
Step 5: Create an agenda and include the following:
Time for each topic
Name of the presenter for each topic
Time for Q&A between each topic or at the end
Time for ice breakers or energizers
Part Three: Take Action
Step 6: Communicate
Objectives, the agenda, and request for actions from all the contributors. (If people have no actions, go to Step 4)
Step 7: You are now ready to take action!
Schedule a meeting and send a calendar invitation. Follow up with a reminder a day before.
Prior to your meeting, test the equipment required for facilitation. If a meeting is done via web or video conference, call in with another team member 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the meeting and test the software.
It is worth everyone's time and effort to plan a meeting in order to avoid common mistakes and waste valuable minutes that could be spent on other productive activities.
Need a template to plan an effective meeting? Please contact us to receive free versions of the meeting planning template in Word and PDF formats. Workshops are available to enhance meeting planning and facilitation skills.