Meetings are expensive. I created an earlier article that will help you calculate just how expensive meetings are.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend the money. I just want you to make sure that you are spending that money well.
The best way for this to happen is to begin your planning by identifying what the meeting will produce. This is much different than the usual starting point of deciding what the group will do during the meeting.
Process Drives Product
Talking isn’t the work product. While talking might create some value, it doesn’t in itself represent value. When creating your meeting plan you need to distinguish between process and product.
A simple break-even analysis would suggest the meeting is effective when the value of the products equals or exceeds the cost of the process you used to produce them.
The more specific you are about what you want the group to accomplish, the greater the chance you will be able to explain it to the meeting participants. The better they understand, the more likely it is that together you will produce those outcomes.
Here’s an example. Suppose you want a department meeting to deal with some serious customer satisfaction issues. You hope the group will figure out the problem and decide to do something about it.
You’ll help the meeting succeed by turning your hopes into a list of tangible meeting deliverables such as the following:
- A list of customer concerns, prioritized by likely impact on the customer.
- The root cause(s) for the top three customer concerns.
- An action plan for addressing the top three concerns.
Narrow Your Focus
If you are still having trouble being specific, shorten your meeting to the point where you focus on just one tangible product. Here are some examples:
- A flowchart for the current new employee orientation process.
- A list of 20 overtime-reducing ideas.
- The pros and cons of a current proposal.
- An implementation plan for the new training module.
There’s a saying that goes, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” When it comes to meetings, make sure you ask for something or you are likely to get nothing.
Want Some Help?
Besides leading meetings, I can help you plan one that you run yourself. I call it my DIY meeting support services.