When you consider the cost of the time of the participants, meetings are expensive!
For meetings to be productive, it is essential that the context be assessed in order to determine which type or style would be best to achieve the objectives in the shortest amount of time. Very often, the conversations that have to happen in a meeting whether about tactics or strategy are all lumped together into one session. Once you determine the purpose of the meeting, it is easier to determine the actual style of meeting required. Here are several types of meetings:
- Informational: The main purpose is to inform those in attendance. Although this may involve a very large group, invite only those who need to know. Restrict the number of messages to only five. Consider who needs to know the information and who is the best person to present. Also consider just sending the information by email or memorandum and don’t bother with the meeting.
- Discussion: These meetings are used to share feelings, ideas, frustrations or opinions or to build consensus. Small groups work best to create a friendly, open atmosphere. Restrict the number of participants to ten.
- Problem-solving: When there is a problem that needs to be resolved, a small, knowledgeable group of people meet to discuss solutions. Invite participants who know the issues best to these types of meetings. Try to exclude those who “want to be involved” but have little to contribute.
- Decision-making: The purpose of the meeting is to make a decision. It is imperative that the people who have the authority to decide are included. Also choose people who have a direct stake in the outcome of the discussion.
- Daily check-in meeting: This meeting provides a forum for activity updates and scheduling. It should be in the form of a stand-up and take no more than 10 minutes. It provides quick, administrative updates on scheduling and activities.
- Weekly tactical: Sometimes known as staff or team meetings, these should focus on priorities, goals and action plans of each individual member of the group as they support achievement of current objectives. It should focus only on critical and relevant issues and act as a scorecard for the team. The meeting should last no longer than one hour.
- Strategic Planning: These meetings are held to discuss long-term strategies for the organization. They are usually longer events that require a facilitator, lots of brainstorming, creativity and debate. It is best to hold these meetings off-site.
Plan your meetings according to the type or style and try not to mix each one. If necessary create several types of meetings and plan them at different times, in order to effectively achieve your objectives.
If it is necessary to mix styles during one meeting, then at least take a break before changing into the next type.
How do you use meetings in your organization?