|Dear Meeting Guru,
"I'm responsible for planning three upcoming
meetings for my department: an informative session, a decision-making
meeting and a brainstroming session. Help! How do I plan these sessions?
Could you describe the differences, as well as the objectives of
each? Do you have any tips I should keep in mind?"
An informative session, a decision-making meeting and a brainstorming session
have very different objectives. When planning a meeting, it is very important
to identify the objective of the meeting. Only once the objective is clear will
creating an effective agenda become simple. What follows are different objectives
for the various types of meetings you mentioned and some related tips on how
you can make them more effective.
A. Problem-Solving Meeting
Objective: To discuss an issue or conflict and decide how to
Tip: The following problem-solving process will help your
group make better decisions the next time you meet.
1. Identify the Problem
The problem should already be clear in the minds of the attendees. In other
words, participants will hopefully know why they're attending the meeting!
2. Determine the causes
What's causing the problem? What are the underlying issues?
3. Generate possible solutions
How could we possibly overcome this issue? What are the options at
4. Evaluate the proposed
Is this the best solution for us? Is it feasible? Is it realistic?
5. Choose the best solution
If you've narrowed the options down to a few alternatives, vote to
determine the best solution for the group. This gives everyone an opportunity
to provide input on the final decision. If peer pressure is an issue or if
substantial conflict surrounds the topic, consider holding a secret ballot
B. Informational Meeting
Objective: To give or receive information about a specific
idea or important matters concerning the attendees.
Tip: The majority of meetings today simply exchange facts
or information about a specific topic. Given the widespread use of e-mail in
today's workplace, many individuals are opting for quick e-mail updates instead
of meeting. To determine if a meeting is worth your time, ask yourself, "Is
this meeting really necessary?" If not, consider using e-mail to update
or share information with the individuals who would have attended the meeting.
For more information on whether a meeting is worth your time, please visit "To Meet or Not to Meet
the Question". If you have decided the meeting is necessary and cannot
be replaced with an e-mail, be sure that the meeting objective is clear and
an agenda has been created before the meeting begins. Having a proper agenda
and objective will help keep the meeting discussion focused and on track.
|C. Brainstorming Meeting
Objective: To produce new ideas about a specific topic.
|Tip: Here are some guidelines to
follow for a more effective brainstorming session:
||Before the meeting, participants should be told the objective
of the session as well as their role in the brainstorming session. Background
information, if available, should also be distributed to participants
prior to the session.
||The atmosphere of the meeting should be loose and informal.
||Make sure that no idea is ruled out because it's too wild.
Try to avoid judging ideas.
||A facilitator should be appointed to control the flow of
information and record ideas as they develop.
I hope that this information will help you effectively plan your upcoming meetings.
Remember that having a clear meeting objective and well-planned agenda are the
two most important elements of an effective meeting. For more guidance on how
to create an effective agenda, visit "How to Create an Agenda, Step-by-Step".
You may also find the article, "Things to Consider When
Preparing for Your Meeting" useful for planning your meetings.
you're overwhelmed by the new experience of planning these meetings, remember
what Confucius once said, "Learning without thought is labor lost."
In other words, lessons learned from challenging the mind are often the most
rewarding. Having the responsibility of planning these meetings is an opportunity
for you to learn something new and share this newfound wisdom with your colleagues.
may good meeting karma always be with you!