Inspired by David Dye’s excellent post on the Lead Change Group blog on January 21, 2015.David provides some excellent observations about how to create better meetings. My additional thoughts on this topic are noted below, edited for clarity and length:
I just wish we were not still having to concern ourselves with doing meetings better. It seems this has been a topic throughout my professional life … (Insert heavy sigh here).
One assumption that flows throughout David’s thoughts:
When you take the time to strategically plan a meeting by identifying clearly who is gathering and what they are to do, you need to clearly communicate that IN ADVANCE so people can prepare.
I have heard the idea that a best meeting practice is to have a one-page agenda.
I respectfully disagree a tad.
The agenda, published well in advance of the meeting date, should contain the information needed for the person to come ready to contribute. Depending on the size of the meeting , this might be much more than one page.
I think agendas should include:
1) Who is coming, and if necessary, their title and function. This introduces accountability and alows everyone to know the participants in a more useful way.
2) The Bottom Line purpose of the meeting (as you say deciding to do something and deciding how to do that something are two very different discussions).
3) The specific expectations for participants regarding each activity of the meeting.
4) Pertinent information that participants should have that is not within their ability to find out themselves. If you do expect people to come prepared, help them by telling them what you expect them to know and share.
I still attend meetings where an agenda with topics is handed out, often at the meeting, which makes it useful only as a Tick List to tell me how much more we have to go before I can leave.
When people know clearly beforehand what is to be done at the meeting, they have the opportunity to prepare to do exactly that. Otherwise, we are just guessing at what we are supposed to do.
Considering my own past meeting sins and promising to do better in the future in the Heartland …