Simon Sinek has made the concept of starting with why popular. Through first his TED talk and then his book, he shows how starting with ‘why’ instead of ‘how’ or ‘what’ connects you with your audience more quickly. This concept has wide applicability from the large questions of why you do your work to the more focused one of why you are calling together a group of people for a particular task (otherwise known as a meeting).
What’s your goal?
In planning a meeting, starting with the why is key. Why am I have this meeting? Why am I bringing this group together? What can this group do together that another could not do? What is my goal and what outcome do I hope to have by having this meeting?
Opening and Closing
With your goal and intended outcome clear, you can then move to the “what” and the “how.” The ‘what’ will flow from the why. It is helpful to think about another concept. How many ‘what’s’ or agenda items can you reasonably open and bring to closure during the time you have available?
Cycle of experience
Taking time for closing
Groups often dive into a topic without allowing time for coming to some resolution. This resolution does not necessarily have to be a decision about the issue. It could simply be to outline next steps, such as further study, or delegation to a subgroup to come back with a proposal. You may feel awkward when you interject and pull the group back before someone jumps to another topic. It may feel like it is slowing progress. Yet this pause actually saves time and energy in the long run because you take the time to clearly delineate your next steps. Your brain will thank you too because the majority of the energy your brain expends is in shifting gears.
Did you get it in writing?
To be most effective, designating someone to capture notes from the discussion and especially on the next steps for each item is key. Without this, too often groups discuss a multitude of topics and walk away without a clear notion of whether there is agreement on how to proceed. This saves on confusion on roles and responsibilities as well as checking for understanding.
You probably already know all this. And it is too easy to miss implementing these simple steps in practice. This meeting planning tool can help put these simple steps into action.
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