Participants might need an agenda, but you need a plan. Agendas are useful, but don’t fully address two critical questions:
- What will the meeting produce?
- How will we do our work?
Imagine being in a meeting to develop cost-savings recommendations. The agenda shows three activities:
- Review the current financial situation.
- Make a list of potential cost-savings ideas.
- Decide which ideas to recommend.
The meeting doesn’t go well. The group produces only a few weak ideas, and an argument breaks out about which to recommend.
You can do better
Now let’s imagine it’s your turn to plan this meeting. Here’s how to create significantly better results.
First, make sure the meeting participants are clear about what they are supposed to accomplish. It might appear obvious that the goal is to produce recommendations. That’s not specific enough. Your plan will change based on how you answer these questions:
- Should recommendations be prioritized?
- Do the recommendations need to include forecasted cost savings?
- Should we include information about effort required to implement them?
Second, consider potential problems and think about your process options. Here are some questions that might help you do that:
- Should background information be offered before or during the meeting?
- How can I make it safe for people to participate?
- If there isn’t consensus, how will we form a recommendation?
Most people make an agenda, and that’s the extent of their planning. That’s fine for the participants, but not the leader. Identify the right questions, put together a solid plan, and then work it to produce results.
Image credit: Pen Waggener