Extraordinary Team Blog

Effective Teams Plan for Meeting Success

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 15, 2010

If you don’t know the objectives and agenda prior to walking in to a meeting, you are doomed from the start.  Unless the meeting purpose and agenda is created at the beginning of the meeting, chances are you will be held captive in a group grope, attempting to discover something of some relevance to someone on this planet.

My hope is that you appreciate the fundamental importance of objectives and agenda, and that each time you get an email requesting your attendance, an agenda is attached.  If not, you go back to the team leader and request more information on the purpose and agenda for the meeting.  By being persistent, you increase the probability of team success during your limited time together.

If you would like to further increase team success, ask your teammates to come prepared to the meeting.  Preparation can take many forms:

Reading.  Suggest certain documents, articles, or books to read.  Send these suggestions out in enough time for the team to read and digest the information.  For larger packages of information, include summaries or key points for those who may not have enough time to read the entire package.

Ask Questions.  Pose questions to consider as they reflect on the meeting objectives and agenda.  You can ask rhetorical questions to stimulate thinking on a topic or send out a small survey, collect the answers and use the collective wisdom to launch the topic discussion.

Watch a Movie.  Many movies have wonderful scenes/stories that relate to the team’s mission.  Recommend watching a movie and then discuss its implications as an icebreaker.  For example, if you will be talking about team building, recommend they watch “Camelot,” The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain,” or “The Dirty Dozen” for ideas.

Interview Folks.  Meet one on one or with a few team members to ask specific, probing questions around the meeting objectives.  This will allow you to get a sense for the diversity of opinions that may exist over a controversial topic.

When you assign prework, make it clear what you want them to do and what you will do with the information.  For example, you might write in the meeting agenda, “Please think about…. and/or come prepared to discuss…so that we can…”  When your teammates do their prework, you’ll get a head start on the team’s work.

Question:  Do you prepare an agenda for each and every meeting?

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