1. Only have a meeting if there is  truly a decision to be made, a plan to be created or a conflict to address.  Note that a major decision can consist of many smaller milestone decisions that may each constitute their own meeting.  Information should be provided via e-mail – not in a meeting.  “If there is nothing worth debating, we won’t have a meeting.” Patrick Lencioni
  2. Only the minimum number of people should participate. Don’t invite anyone for political reasons. Don’t invite anyone to socialize them on the solution because they were part of inventing it–people don’t need to be in the kitchen to enjoy the meal at the restaurant.” Seth Godin (emphasis added)
  3. Avoid participation by conference call.
  4. Collect, clarify and organize any information that is known to be needed to make the decision – cost/ROI/budget, options, customer perspective, availability of resources, schedule, co-worker skill knowledge etc.
  5. Provide a very structured agenda that states:
    • Who will be in attendance.
    • The decision to be discussed in the meeting.
    • The ONE purpose of the meeting. (Begin the discussion, make the decision, or determine next steps and accountability to implement the decision…)
    • The purpose of the decision – why does it need to be made/followed through on?
    • Deadline for making the decision.
    • Current known obstacles, opportunities and outcomes for the decision.  Provide known pros and cons.
    • Define who is/are the final decision maker(s).
  6. Along with the agenda, provide all the data and context needed to make the decision to all participants, in advance, in writing.  Request this information be read and digested before the meeting (should become part of your overall meeting protocol/culture.)
Bonus Meeting Participation Preparation: Implement meeting “sign language” to increase efficiency and improve communication in your meetings.
Next week we will finish this series with what to do during a meeting (as well as after) to make it worthwhile.