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Effective meetings are first based on clear line of sight to an end result, preferably something that can be documented.  Yet all too often meeting purposes rely on determining WHAT the deliverable should be. Consequently, using meeting time to determine the meeting deliverable indicates unclear thinking and weak methodology.  As a result, see the eight most common reasons or purposes and benefits and problems associated with each.

Eight Meeting Purposes

Eight Meeting Purposes

Eight Meeting Purposes

Analysis 

  • Highly complex situations may require multiple subject matter experts. Frequently experts have their own vernacular or vocabulary, and a meeting is appropriate to homogenize understanding and agreement. Have you ever run a meeting with PhD engineers and creative marketing folks together? As a result, sometimes it sounds like they are from different planets. Carefully document operational definitions that arise during analysis sessions.

Assignments 

Decision-Making 

  • Since resources typically fall short of the demands, prioritization remains critical for high performance groups. As a result, no team has the time or resource to do everything. Consensual understanding around prioritization provides strong justification for hosting a meeting or workshop. Since items to be prioritized range from the simple to the complicated through the complex, identify your most appropriate tool before the meeting starts. Then, prepare a back-up approach as well.

Idea Generation 

  • The reason that groups are smarter than the smartest person in the group is because groups create more options than simply aggregating the input of participants. Many of the best ideas did not walk into the meeting because they are created during the meeting, based on stimulation from others. Use SCAMPER, Thinking-Hats, or Changing Perspectives to drive more ideas, thus increasing your likelihood for innovation or breakthrough.

Information Exchange 

  • By far and away the most common reason for meetings is also one of the worst possible reasons for justifying a meeting. With instant access and electronic filing cabinets, coming together face-to-face is a very expensive way to exchange information. A better justification would be to address questions about clarity, agreement, and omissions of related information or the impact the information ought have on the behavior of participants.

Inspiration and Fun 

  • Meetings can be effectively used to both reward, incentivize, and incite but usually on a large-scale that involve complimentary events or sessions that also involve learning and building teamwork. Therefore, anticipate using break-out sessions by creatively preparing activities appropriate for your audience and situational constraints. The quality of group output increases tremendously when you contrast and compare input from different teams.

Persuasion 

  • Probably the worst reason for holding a meeting is to convince other people to change their behavior. So consider the three primary forms of persuasion; namely identification (eg, advertising), internalization (ie, long-lasting), and forced-compliance (ie, “gun to the head”). Because meetings are sub-optimal with all three forms of persuasion, they rarely succeed at convincing others.

Relationships 

  • Simply pulling together people face-to-face provides the glue that can pull people together and get them to work more cooperatively. Frequently venting, or managing conflict, can result in increased effectiveness. Therefore, the best time to invest in face-to-face meetings is when people don’t agree with each other and need to both reconcile their points of view and agree to move on.

For what other meeting purposes have you found yourself attending a meeting? What other meeting purposes do you think exist to justify a meeting? Send us your responses to this question and we’ll send you a small gift.

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Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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