3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Schedule That Next Meeting

No matter what field you’re in, meeting management matters. It’s impossible to work without collaboration and like it or not (and most people don’t), meetings are a part of professional life. That said, a well-run meeting can make working much easier. In the next two posts, I will share how to plan effectively for a meeting and how to manage a meeting successfully. In this post below, I’ve outlined 3 questions you should ask yourself as you plan for your meeting.


Question #1: Why are we here? Surprisingly this is not a question people ask themselves consistently enough when they prepare a meeting (I know because I’ve seen meetings where the intended purpose and the meeting’s facilitation style were in direct conflict with each other!) So here’s why you might be running this meeting: it’s a project update; it’s a brainstorming session; you’re at a crisis point in a project and need group collaboration to get it back on track; it’s an update for executive leadership. Whatever it is will drive everything else you do to make it successful. For example– your agenda for a project update is tighter, more choreographed and filled with more details. Your agenda for a brainstorming session usually starts with a goal and some guiding questions to drive the conversation.

Question #2: Who’s the crowd? Aside from why the meeting is taking place, the crowd influences the approach at the meeting and the outcomes. If it’s with senior leadership, you may have a more formal meeting structure. Some employees respond better to structure than others, so that might influence how you present. You may also know if there are a lot of silent glowering types or folks who like to dismiss every idea at the meeting (that would influence your outcomes too). It’s also important to assess if your meeting attendees are decisionmakers, influencers or in any way noteworthy.Knowing who’s there drives your agenda and how you set things up. For example, I know some of my colleagues like to see more data/updates than others. Others want the highlights and to skip past the details. This affects what I share before the meeting and what I will share at the meeting.

Question #3: What’s the outcome I want? Decide what your meeting outcome should be. Is it to get buy-in, feedback, brainstorming, solutions? Whatever it is, orient your agenda and your meeting plan to fit that outcome. That might mean including key questions that get at the heart of the issue. For example: the meeting’s goal is to get senior leadership’s buy-in on spending an additional $15,000 on program X. Then your agenda is oriented to outlining why program X has a gap or deficiency, solutions attempted, solutions proposed and how the $15K solution makes the most sense. A PowerPoint presentation would be good for this type of meeting.

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