How to define your meeting goals
While meetings without a goal are commonplace, being clear about the end result of a meeting can help unite participants. So, how to go about defining your meeting goals?
Meetings are an essential component of corporate life that are often as likely to be a disaster as be successful. If meeting madness is one of the most common pitfalls in companies, it is often because many meetings are organised without having a clear goal defined by the meeting organiser beforehand. The result? A feeling of wasting time in fruitless discussions, projects that do not progress, decisions that are not made, and a lack of engagement from participants.
To prevent these outcomes, it is important to be clear on what you want to achieve with your meeting and how you will achieve it - and that is before you even send out the invitations. Not only will clarifying the objective allow you to choose the right participants, but you will also be able to identify the most appropriate meeting moderation techniques.
What is a meeting goal?
A meeting goal is different from a meeting agenda. The agenda is the guiding thread that outlines all the topics to be discussed, the name of the person responsible for each item, and the time allotted for discussion, whereas a goal goes further into detail by specifying the target to be achieved for each topic.
Is it to make a decision on a particular issue? Is it to gather ideas in order to implement a new initiative? Is it to reach a consensus on priorities? These objectives will determine the moderation techniques and the course of the meeting itself. If the aim is to generate ideas, brainstorming could be a good approach.
What are the elements of a well-defined meeting goal?
It cannot be stressed enough: the success of a meeting depends to a large extent on preparation. Creating an agenda, choosing the right participants and defining the goals. The art of arriving at a sound goal lies in how it is formulated: the goal must be precise, concrete, and achievable within the time available for the meeting.
Compare these two goals:
- Increase organic traffic by 25% by the end of the year.
- Establish a marketing action plan to increase organic traffic by 25% by the end of the year.
If the first option was selected and communicated to the participants, the discussions would likely go in all directions and wouldn’t be likely to result in any tangible actions - the definition of a pointless meeting. On the other hand, the second definition would help identify the priority actions to be taken, and the people to be involved.
Setting a clear goal is the key to focused and fruitful discussions. Just as it is essential to share the agenda in advance, it is equally important to communicate the meeting's goal to the participants so that everyone arrives having already considered their individual contribution. This is how companies harness collective wisdom.
Different goals for different types of meetings
The type of meeting has a direct influence on the definition of the goals to be achieved. One does not collaborate in the same way with four people as with a group of thirty. Likewise, some goals are based on communication, while others consist solely of passing on information. Again, it is best to adapt the format of your meeting to your purpose.
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Examples of goals for a business meeting
As the name suggests, a business meeting is a meeting aimed at achieving a common business goal as a group. This may be to draw up an action plan, analyse a project, or rethink business processes. In all instances, the goal of a business meeting must be adapted to the skills and expertise of those invited. To be effective, the goal should also be short-term and focused enough to ensure that the meeting results in "deliverables".
Examples of team meeting goals
Depending on the company, a team meeting can potentially bring together a large number of people. Whether it is a one-off or a recurring meeting, its purpose is often to review current projects, to share essential information, and to strengthen the group’s cohesion. For team meetings to be productive, it is advisable to use templates. If, for example, the aim is to provide an overview of the weekly performance, a template summarising the key indicators will help achieve this aim by coherently presenting the information.
Examples of goals of a coordination meeting
A coordination meeting can be a good opportunity to define a battle plan, or to review progress on an ongoing initiative. Again, this type of meeting may involve a large number of people. The goal should therefore be very clear and focused. If, for instance, a project is experiencing difficulties, rather than asking the group to think about an overall recovery plan, it is better to propose working together on specific points such as redefining the scope of the project to keep the initial delivery date, even if this means holding several separate coordination meetings as a result.
Examples of goals of an information meeting
Information meetings are used to communicate important elements. The aim here is to pass on information at the same time and to all those concerned. For example, it may be about reorganising a department or implementing a new strategy. Whatever the subject, the goal here is to deliver a clear message by passing on only the necessary information, avoiding overloading people with extraneous details that might hinder understanding.
Well-defined goals for effective meetings
Defining meeting goals is just as important as creating a clear agenda or selecting the right attendees. A well-defined goal helps to focus the group's attention on a specific action or issue, and avoids meetings that drag on or digress.
A well-defined goal also has another virtue: by allowing the group to work together on a targeted action, the participants immediately see the results of their efforts, which creates a sense of pride that reinforces their motivation and commitment.