Ineffective meetings often results from a lack of strategic planning. Sometimes there is a total absence of planning: Someone decides it’s a good idea to have a meeting, haphazardly invites the people she or he wants to attend, sets the time based on his or her own convenience, and makes room arrangements based only on proximity, not capacity to hold the number of participants. The individual or group initiating the meeting may give no thought at all to the process, to group interaction, or to the ability of the group to reach the desired outcome.
In other meetings, everything is prearranged, giving the semblance of planning, but nothing is thought through, leading to an overly ambitious agenda, incomplete information for decision making, participants who do not have the authority to make the desired decision, poor attendance because of competing demands on participants’ time, and an inappropriate choice of presentations and/or problem-solving tools. The result is a meeting with unrealistic expectations and unmet objectives. To plan an effective meeting, you need to think strategically about how each component will contribute to the outcome you desire.
There are four sequential steps to determine the rationale for a meeting:
- Identify the purpose of the meeting you are considering.
- Determine what the expectation is for this meeting.
- Evaluate whether or not a meeting is the best method of accomplishing your objective and expectation.
- Measure the meeting’s estimated cost versus the expected benefit.