In The Strategy of Meetings, George David Kieffer writes that the meeting leader must “make the team believe that (1) the group is worth being with; (2) individual members will have an opportunity to influence the outcome; and (3) the cause is one that warrants their attention and effort.”
As a meeting leader, how might you get these messages across? Here are a few ideas:
- Justify the need to call a meeting in the first place. Many valid reasons exist to hold meetings: to inform and discover, build unity, allow a dynamic question-and-answer session, make joint decisions and generate ideas. But there are also plenty of times when assembling a meeting isn’t the best use of everyone’s time; when the work can be accomplished, or the information communicated, just as efficiently (or more efficiently) via phone, email or one-to-one conversation.
- Before assembling a team and calling a meeting, identify the general purpose and specific objectives. For example, for a customer service problem-solving meeting, specific objectives might be: Determine why the customer service department is missing its deadlines 75% of the time; identify and evaluate ways to decrease turnaround time to 48 hours or less; find a solution that can be implemented before the end of the third quarter and assign responsibility for implementing the solution. These sample objectives are results-oriented, emphasizing specific outcomes. (An example of vague objectives for the same meeting might be “Find out how the customer services reps are doing and, if improvement is needed, kick around some ideas for making things better.”). When possible, link meeting objectives to organizational goals.