by Glory Enyinnaya
If you spend any amount of time in the corporate world, it won’t be long before you encounter one of the most important, mishandled and misunderstood staples of the business world: the meeting.
How many of you have ever slept in a meeting? Or even worse, how many times have you had people nodding off at meetings you facilitated? This might have been due to any of two things.
Perhaps the attendees stayed up till 2am the night before, partying and drinking tequila until the wee hours of the morning. If that’s the case, then, what cannot be helped must be endured. There’s only so much you can do anything about the nocturnal habits of your colleagues.
On the other hand, perhaps they slept off because they found the meeting boring. If this is the case, then this Meetings 101 series is for you. It’ll help you plan and conduct meetings that are both efficient and effective so that your meeting objectives are accomplished in an appropriate amount of time, and the meeting process is facilitated in a way that allows everyone to contribute and feel valued as participants.
The most productive meetings are the ones in which everyone attending has a clear understanding of why they are at the meeting. This is the reason the facilitator needs to determine the Purpose, Outcome, Why (POW!) prior to the meeting and then communicate and get agreement on it in the meeting.
• The Purpose is a statement of your meeting objective.
• The Outcome is more specific. It is what you want to have when you walk out the door of the meeting—the specific deliverable, such as a list of recommended solutions; or a non-tangible, such as team members who are excited about starting the next phase of a project.
• The Why includes both the rationale for achieving the meeting objectives and each individual’s “what’s in it for me.”
– Purpose: To finalize budget recommendation
– Outcome: A final department budget ready to submit for corporate budget review
– Why: “We were over budget last year and unfortunately, that’s why we didn’t get approval for additional headcount. Let’s make sure that we plan well and ask for what we need.” (The Why is often stated, rather than written on a flipchart or agenda.)
The POW! is the most important concept of this series. All other decisions about a meeting depend on the POW! of the meeting: participants, meeting length, agenda and process. Even the design of the room and other preparation steps are dependent on the POW!
To create the POW!, use the following guidelines to determine the purpose, desired outcome and why of the meeting.
• Why are we holding this meeting?
•What do we want to accomplish?
• Is the meeting necessary, or could we get the same outcomes using other methods?
• What would be a successful meeting?
• What are the maximum and minimum desired outcomes?
• What questions need to be addressed by the meeting participants to get these outcomes?
• What criteria exists for generating outcomes?
• What will happen with the results/outcome of the meeting?
• Will the results be delivered to someone for review and approval?
• Who is responsible for the follow-up?
• By what date should follow-up occur?
• Who will facilitate?
• Who will record?
• Who will participate and why? What’s in it for them?
• What level of participation do we need from group members?
• Have the participants met before on this issue? What was the outcome? (Facilitation Handbook)
Asking these questions and communicating the answers to the meeting attendees should make your next meeting a WOW meeting.