Defining the Objective: What Do Your Meetings Set out to Achieve?

successful meeting tips guidesIf you’ve ever sat in a marketing meeting, you’ve likely heard some bald middle-aged guy wearing an ironic T-shirt talk about giving the consumer a “reason to believe”. It’s an overused term in an industry where buzzwords and acronyms are thrown around like candy at a toddler’s birthday party. But, at the same time, business leaders, project managers and team leads could all benefit by offering people a “reason to believe” when it comes to organizing meetings.

Let’s face it, people are losing faith in face-to-face meetings these days. And the main cause of that is not because they don’t appreciate that you’ve decided to bring them to downtown Manhattan (where, by the way, it’s possible to rent office space in NYC hourly) or because they aren’t at all interested in the content of the meeting, but rather because they aren’t given a “reason to believe” by the organizer.

Sure, in years gone by, you could call a meeting, and everyone would show up without even having a clue what it was about. But we live in a world where we need to protect our most productive hours of the day. And many have begun to realize that they have the power to say no to attending meetings or to at least question why they should be there. And in this day and age, you need to define the objective of your meeting and let people know what your meeting sets out to achieve.

Why Is Having an Objective so Important?

More often than not, a meeting without a clear objective is a waste of busy people’s valuable time. And if you’re paying these people, you’re losing money. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re only really using up one hour of time by hosting a meeting without a clear objective. No, multiply that one hour by the number of people in attendance. That’s how many hours you’re wasting if you plan a meeting without a clear objective. And it will be a waste because without a clear objective in place, how can you possibly know what your meeting is meant to achieve. And if you don’t know what you’re intending to achieve, well, how can you achieve it?

You can’t expect people to attend a meeting armed with insight and excited to get started when they don’t, ultimately, have a good reason to be there. After all, if you’re asking people to brave the traffic in New York City when they could be replying to emails from home, you have to offer them a solid reason.

How to Properly Question Your Intention Before You Plan a Meeting

According to an article by Harvard Business Review, “The most important question you should ask is: ‘What is this meeting intended to achieve?’ You can ask it in different ways — ‘What would be the likely consequences of not holding it?’ ‘When it is over, how shall I judge whether it was a success or a failure?’ — but unless you have a very clear requirement from the meeting, there is a grave danger that it will be a waste of everyone’s time.”

These shouldn’t be difficult questions to answer. If you’re working on launching a new website, the intention may be to create a list of actionable goals that will result in the website being successfully launched by a certain date and within a specific budget. If you didn’t hold the meeting, people wouldn’t know who is meant to do what and by when in order for the project to be a success. And you could judge whether the meeting was a success or a failure by whether you have a set of actionable (and achievable) goals that everyone involved agrees on.

Make Sure That Your Objective Is Clear and Attainable

Place your objective at the top of a meeting agenda and then follow that up with how you plan to reach that objective. It’s not only about “why” you are hosting a meeting, but also about “what” you plan to do to achieve this goal, and “who” you need in the room in order to make it happen.

For example, you plan to launch a new project and the intention of the meeting is to ensure that each person knows exactly what they need to do in order for the project to be a success. That’s the “why”. The “what” is a list of tasks that need to be discussed and assigned by the end of the meeting and the “who” is a rundown of who will be in attendance and what they’re expected to bring to the meeting, whether it be competitor insights or technical skills.

By knowing exactly why you are organizing a meeting and why their presence is needed in order to meet this objective, meeting invitees are more likely to click the “accept” button.

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