A great way to make your team meetings more effective is to switch your thinking and planning from agenda items to meeting outcomes. Agenda items are a list of tasks, while meeting outcomes describe what you want to accomplish during your meeting. That distinction is crucial.
How do you define success if your meeting is designed around agenda items? Have you had a successful meeting if you “get through” the entire agenda? As the meeting planner, how do you decide if your meeting has accomplished what you set out to do?
In contrast to a list of topics, clear meeting outcomes describe what you plan to accomplish during the meeting and provide a means to assess whether you’ve accomplished them. Consider the following list of actual agenda items collected from recent meeting agendas that were sent to me and compare them to the same idea presented as a meeting outcome.
|Outcome (Participants will…)
|Review Q4 and next fiscal year sales projections
|Understand budget implications arising from Q4 and next fiscal year sales projections.
|Finalize COVID plan for modified staff schedules.
|Ways to incorporate Microsoft Teams into our daily routines
|Commit to moving all department IMs to Microsoft Teams by Monday morning.
|Feel optimistic about next Friday’s product launch.
Notice that each outcome has a “Participants will…” lead-in (could be “team members will…,” “board members will…,” etc.) and starts with a verb. It’s also possible to establish affective outcomes such as the last one in the list. (Yes, the mood of your team is important.)
Planning a meeting using outcomes takes longer than making a list of agenda items because the meeting planner needs to consider what is to be accomplished rather than just what is to be “covered.” That investment of time pays off when, at the end of the meeting, the meeting facilitator can review the outcomes with the attendees and confirm that the outcomes were accomplished using any one of a number of quick assessment strategies.
I recommend listing the meeting outcomes near the top of the meeting agenda and reviewing them at the beginning of the meeting. Make sure that everyone involved understands the outcomes and why they’re important. Meeting outcomes don’t replace a list of topics to be discussed, and not every item for discussion must have an associated meeting outcome.
If you accomplish all your meeting outcomes, you have almost certainly facilitated an effective meeting.
A thought to ponder #
Do the most important thing first each day and you’ll never have an unproductive day.
Something Delightful #
When professional archer Matt Stutzman committed himself to becoming the best archer in the world, he initiated a path of learning and mastery that took him to the pinnacle of his sport. Now an Olympic medalist, Matt continues to push himself and refuses to settle for less than the best.
It’s impossible to spend any time with Matt and not be moved by his story and determination. What personal declaration are you ready to make that will shape your future?