The Only 3 Reasons to Have a Meeting

Consciously determining and announcing the driving force of a meeting is the best means to ensure an effective outcome.

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There are only three reasons for groups of people to meet:

1. To generate new ideas

2. To share information

3. To make a decision

Your meetings will be much more effective if, prior to your meetings, you consciously determine which of the three is the driving intent of the meeting and communicate that determination to attendees. It will keep the meeting focused on achieving its objective.

How to Do it

Begin by considering the meeting’s outcome. What needs to happen to make this meeting effective and a success?

  • Idea Generation – Do you need this group to brainstorm ideas, create something new, or think about some future activity?
  • Information Sharing – Does this group need to give and/or take information? Learn something? Gather facts and figures, or impressions and observations?
  • Decision Making – Does this group need to reach a decision? Does the group need to judge whether something is right or wrong, or good or bad?

Try considering the best way to complete the following sentence: “This meeting will be very useful if we accomplish the following: ...”

Announce in the invitation, the agenda or at the start of the meeting, what type of meeting it will be. This will focus attendees on the driving force of the meeting.

This is an easy way to make sure that new ideas are not flying around if making a decision is the priority. It will ensure that attendees don’t shut down brainstorming by passing judgment on every new idea. And it will ensure that there is a limit to the amount of information that is brought in when it’s time to make a decision. It will also ensure that the group does not come to judgment before sufficient new ideas and information are presented.

When developing the agenda, bear in mind that idea generation typically comes first, information sharing second, and decision making third. We’ve found that this is a logical flow and enhances the effectiveness of each step.

The majority of people need time to warm up to idea generation, so be sure to allot the most time to this step; send out the agenda as early as possible so attendees can think on the issue beforehand.

Add approximate timings to each element of the agenda. For example, if you have an hour, and you need to perform all three functions, an agenda may look like this:

  • Idea Generation: 30 minutes
  • Information Sharing: 20 minutes
  • Decision Making: 10 minutes

For meetings with multiple goals, like the above, be disciplined in keeping each step separate from the next, and stick to your time keeping.

Benefits of Being Conscious of the Driving Force of the Meeting

  • Ensures that attendees are consciously thinking through each necessary step in a meeting.
  • Ensures more effective contribution from participants for those that tend to prefer one “type” of meeting over another.
  • Ensures better prepared attendees.
  • Ensures better adherence to meeting timings.

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