I was having a meeting with a colleague recently and she went way off topic. Well it seemed like that to me at least. But then I had realized that I had not been clear about my request that prompted the meeting. I had not answered the critical question: What needs to have happened by the end of this meeting for it to have been successful? Why had I asked for the meeting in the first place?
What is our goal?
I have written about good meeting design and how it starts with why -- why are you having the meeting? Had I asked myself these questions to get clarity about my purpose I would have realized that I just wanted to know whether she had any feedback on a document before I send it out to a group we were both working with. I would have saved myself from momentary annoyance. And likely I would have realized that we did not even need a meeting. An email would have sufficed. But the meeting was already on the calendar and I was not paying enough attention.
Do I know the ‘why’?
With that in mind, I am going to look through my calendar and ask the question – why am I having this meeting? What am I trying to achieve? If I did not call the meeting – what do I want to get out of the meeting? Even if I do not control the overall goal of the meeting, I can get clear about my own goals. I can also call the question of the organizer if I am not clear, because others may not be as well.
Scan your calendar
Do yourself a favor – scan your calendar. Can you answer the why for each of your meetings that are coming up?
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