Disastrous meetings – we’ve all been to them. The ones that come to mind quickly include the one where several high level executives and policymakers gathered to find a solution to a problem only to have one person aggressively dominate the conversation for hours; or the one where a couple dozen subject matter experts gathered to discuss a report only to discover that the report data was incorrect; or the show-and-tell meeting where the host invites participants under the guise of soliciting advice only instead to spend the valuable time showcasing their own accomplishments. With a little planning, these scenarios could be avoided.
In our view, the greatest amount of time spent on a meeting should be the time spent planning for it. Here’s a glimpse into what we mean:
What do you Want? It should be embarrassing to have an invited participant ask aloud what is the purpose of a particular gathering. Spend time discovering why you want to hold a meeting and what you hope it will achieve.
Facilitation. Who will act as the host of the meeting? Who will facilitate the conversation? Depending on the topic, you may want the titular head of an organization, or someone who is good at drawing out opinions, or one who can assertively keep the agenda and speakers on schedule.
Time is Precious. With busy lives and schedules, people truly value their time and how it is spent. Only conduct a conference if there is good reason for it and keep the agenda running on time!