Why are you having your meeting, and what do you hope to accomplish as a result of the meeting? Those are the critical questions you need to answer before you even begin to plan your meeting. The answers to those questions should appear right at the top of the meeting agenda. That purpose statement is the answer to the question Why?
Before you call for any meeting, push yourself to deeply examine
why you need the meeting.
- Has the purpose of the meeting been identified as "discussing new
communication strategies" when the real issue is trust between management
--- A purpose statement should explain why the group is
--- A clear desired outcome statement defines a specific,
--- A clear purpose and desired outcomes will help keep
your meeting on track.
- Are you calling a meeting the purpose of selecting a new math curriculum
to boost lethargic math scores? But have you considered first meeting
to examine the test data to determine the specific areas/skills
on which students seem to be falling down? Perhaps the entire curriculum
does not need to be dismantled; maybe it just needs to be supplemented.
- Or, your first thought may be: "We need to get together to talk about
constructing a parking lot." But, if you push yourself, you realize
the real purpose of the meeting should be to identify the parking problems
around the school and analyze the causes -- before you float one possible
To follow the parking lot situation through to resolution, a sample purpose statement might read:
Meeting Purpose: to identify the school's parking problems and their causes as the first step to improving parking.
Desired outcomes are a description of the specific accomplishments of the meeting -- tangible things that you want to have in your hand at the end of the meeting. In the parking lot example, the outcomes might be:
- An agreed-on list of the problems with the parking
- An agreed-on list of the causes of those problems
- A list of next steps
Notice that the outcomes are nouns, not verbs. The final outcome is a "list," not "discussing." At the end of the meeting, you want to have a clear accomplishment -- a tangible thing in your hand.
For more information about the stages of meeting development, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.
NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Three parts to good meeting design.
Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of
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Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years'
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