Meetings can suck your time and your life.
But… that is still also one of the best way we know to actually coordinate with each other and make sure agreements flows into an organisation.
Yet, when you call for a meeting you can still make sure your time will be well used by creating a frame within which the conversation will happen.
What do you need this meeting for?
A meeting about a topic in general is not good enough for people to really prepare to your meeting (we assume people want to come prepared to your meeting).
So are you trying to:
- kickstart a project / an event
- solve a problem
- define a strategy
- agree on an issue
- Get feedback
- Share experiences (debriefing post-event for instance).
- Create a political space for people to vent
Once you know what you want to achieve during the meeting, get more precise:
Kickstart the project / an event
Probably you are gathering the team that will work on this event – so you can either send the list of roles before hand or if you do not have it yet, then define as an outcome : to have a list of roles.
Maybe you need to create a schedule for the event, then define it as an outcome : to produce a schedule.
Or, as an alternative, someone can be tasked to provide a suggestion and then your meeting is a review meeting where the outcome is an approved schedule.
Solving a problem
Are there materials that participants can read before the meeting?
Was there a email conversation that should be shared with the participants?
Can you create context around the problem?
What does the solved problem looks like? (hints: an approved budget, people hugging, a decision made…)
Define a strategy
Is someone responsible to present a strategy at the meeting?
Can you send ahead of time the materials that should be read to help understand what are the constraints on the strategy?
What is the time span for this strategy?
How critical is everyone to be in the meeting?
Can two people take the responsibility to create a strategy document instead and present it to the rest of your team – turing the meeting into a shorter maybe more efficient review meeting?
Agree on an issue
What is the problem and where are the disagreements?
Can you provide a brief of the pros and cons on the issue before the meeting?
Can you formulate the issue as a question?
This way, people could think about it before the meeting.
Define the type of meetings
It may help – to frame your meeting as a :
- Kickstart meeting
- Review meeting
- Update meeting
- Conflict-resolution meeting
And define your deliverables as an outcome
- A task list
- A schedule
- A strategic decision
- A list of role/responsibilities
- An project updates summary
- A list of problem to solves
- A list issues to take in consideration
All these are just general examples, but the point is that you want people to come ready and know the meeting was left with a clear progress – so try to frame your progress as deliverables that are produced by the end of the meeting.