Think Your Way to a GREAT Meeting

Here are 6 simple critical thinking questions that should be asked as you set up (or get invited) to a meeting

  1. What is the purpose/expected outcome - (the ‘why’ of the meeting – is it to solve a problem, informational, is it to have a general discussion? Is the outcome a list of discoveries, a solved problem, knowledge that’s shared)
  2. Who is responsible for the meeting – this point of contact should be clear and organized so that everyone knows who is orchestrating the meeting; when one person isn’t responsible, then no one is responsible
  3. Who should be invited and why – before inviting, ask why each person should be there and what their contribution should be. Tell them that in the invite. If you get invited to a meeting, what your expected contribution is. Knowing why you’re invited to a meeting allows you to prepare for a meeting. Imagine if everyone came to a meeting prepared? Even if you’re not the one calling the meeting, you should know why you’re at the meeting, what you need to do to prepare for it and your role in it
  4. Can I accomplish the purpose of the meeting without having a meeting - Once you figure out the purpose (#1) and the ‘who’ (#2), you might realize that a simple email might do.
  5. Before you end a meeting ask - What action items are there, who owns them, are they clear, when will they be accomplished, and what the follow-up is?
  6. With what metric will I measure the success of the meeting - If you measure your meetings, you’re more apt to focus on the goal of the meeting. Measurements might include:

- Did you accomplish the goal?
- Were the right people at the meeting?
-Was the meeting necessary?
- Is there a clear follow up to the meeting (action items, etc.)?
- Perhaps ask everyone to fill out a quick yes/no survey before they leave the meeting with these questions:

  • Was the goal of the meeting clear?
  • Did the meeting accomplish the goal?
  • Was my presence in the meeting worth it?
  • Is the next step after this meeting clear?

Does all this look like a lot of prep just to have a meeting? It takes time, but do the math. If you have four meetings a day, each 50 minutes long, and by preparing and asking these questions you could save 25% of the time, then you’ll save 50 minutes per day. That’s about 250 hours per year for every person in your meetings. If you have more than 4 meetings a day, or can save 50% of the time, you might be saving over 500 hours of meeting time per person.

Asking and answer the questions above isn’t hard. How come we don’t usually do this?

  1. You must think and prepare, and its easier not to
  2. Its not necessary, i.e. who holds you accountable for efficient meetings
  3. We don’t think we have time to organize…which is ridiculous b/c the time to organize is small compared to the time saved

Do everyone a favor…Try this for one meeting. See the result.

Josh Plumely 
AFP Greater Houston Chapter Secretary