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Plan Efficient Meeting Goals

This lesson is a part of an audio course Plan Efficient Meetings by Igor Arkhipov

"Why am I here?" is a question most meeting participants ask themselves at least once during any long enough session. It is a part of our human nature to ask the question "why," so it is always important to understand the goals of what you are doing.

When you know the why, it is much easier to select a format for your meeting and plan the activities you need to perform to get to your goal. It also helps identify who you need in the room and who may be excused from the meetings with no negative impact.

Know your purpose. And be prepared to articulate it. There is nothing worse than spinning up meetings for absolutely no reason at all. Whatever you do, there must be a good cause behind it. If you cannot clearly explain why you do need a meeting – don't have one.

If your only goal is to get people in the room so they can talk to each other without a clear expected outcome – don't have a meeting. You always need to be able to articulate why they need to talk and what they need to achieve together.

Always know when it is better not to meet! Don't create another meeting without thinking about alternatives first.

It's better not to meet if:

  • You don't have time to prepare.

  • If another method would work just as fine.

  • Or a series of one-on-ones would be more productive.

Finally, don't have a meeting when you know people won't be able to make any decisions on the stop and will need time to come back to you.

But if you feel like the meeting is inevitable... Well, it's time to plan your goals! So how do you do it?

The first thing you do is articulate the meeting purpose. What is going to happen during the meeting?

Then, you define the desired outcome. What do you want to achieve during the meeting?

Finally, you decide the stretch goal. What would be amazing to achieve in addition to the desired outcome? What is the dream goal (providing you have time left)?

When this is done, you need to be transparent. In advance of the meeting, clearly state the desired outcomes with all invited parties, so they have a focused goal in mind.

You also use the goals and outcomes as direction for meeting design. You pick up the format of the session and activities based on them.

Lastly, you use the goals when you get into the room to reiterate why the people have been summoned here.

If you don't have the goals, then you have nothing to scope the meeting. Even worse, you don't even know when you're finished!

Let me give you an example. Your purpose can be to discuss the approach for the next year's marketing campaign. You see how the purpose is process-oriented – this is what you want to do in the room – in this case, "discuss."

The desired outcome may be to draft the plan and agree on the media used. This is actionable and measurable. You can easily say after the meeting, whether it has been achieved or not.

And the stretch goal may be to finalise the campaign plan. It is your dream outcome – would be great to achieve it, but if not – the meeting may still be a success.

Now, let me give you a home task. Think about the last meeting you've been to. What were its purpose and goal? Did it have a stretch goal?

We will speak again soon, until then – think about these questions. Thank you.

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Written by

Igor Arkhipov