WorkMatters
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Week 38, 2021 — Issue #170

Effective Meetings, Part 1: Choose Type, Define Objectives, and Assign Roles

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

Each week: three ideas about the future of work and organization. This week: three ideas on better meeting practices.

How do you run an effective meeting? For me, it comes down to a three-step process: Prep, Meet, and Act. Below, three ideas for how to tackle the all-important first step: meeting preparation.

Let’s dig in.

1. Choose Type

There are different types of meetings. Andy Grove famously distinguished between recurring Process-Oriented meetings and their ad hoc Mission-Oriented counterparts. And in Holacracy, we distinguish between Tactical meetings on the one hand and Governance meetings on the other. There are other dichotomies too. Pick one, choose a type, and proceed.

2. Define Objectives

Effective meetings are effective because they achieve the sought-after outcome. It follows that the first step to running an effective meeting is to actually define what that outcome should be. Your chosen meeting type will help, just remember to be specific. What are you actually hoping to accomplish? Replace ‘meeting to talk about Project X’ with ‘decide whether to invest in Project X, see the attached proposal.’ Proceed.

3. Assign Roles

Effective meetings are small. The bigger they are — the more people are involved — the less effective they tend to become. But here’s the good news: if you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 above, it should be relatively easy to keep the invite list small. Invite key stakeholders only (i.e., no silent bystanders, please) and make clear what their respective roles and responsibilities should be (e.g., Facilitator, Secretary).

Effective meetings require preparation. There’s no way around it. It’s like Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to [run a great meeting] and I will spend the first [five and half hours making meticulous preparations].

I’m paraphrasing, of course.

Point is, meeting prep is important. And yes, it’s tedious and boring. But it’s effectiveness that we’re after, it pays to remember that an ounce of prep is worth a pound of… pointless prattle?

That’s all for this week.
Until next time: Make it matter.

WorkMatters is a weekly newsletter on and about the future of work. It’s written and curated by Andreas Holmer.

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Andreas Holmer

Andreas Holmer

Designer, reader, writer. Sensemaker. Management thinker. CEO at MAQE — a digital consulting firm in Bangkok, Thailand.

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