Five questions to ask before agreeing to a meeting to ensure it has value for the business

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This week several people have commented on the amount of meetings they’re attending; questioning the validity and purpose. And browsing through my emails I noticed a great post from Paul Matthews, People Alchemy Ltd who says that everyone should have a checklist they use before calling a meeting or agreeing to attend. We often think quite differently about meetings that we hold with clients to those we hold with internal stakeholders (and let’s face no matter what size of business everyone is an internal stakeholder) but do they think about meetings with us in the same way? It’s easy to get meeting crazy – we should have a meeting about this and there’s that matter we discussed the other day… but what is the real value of the meeting and the real cost?

Here’s the questions to ask and it only takes a couple of minutes…

  • Why – why is the meeting being held and what’s the desired outcome? What do you want to see being different as a result of the meeting? Is it necessary or is there are simpler way to achieve the outcome e.g. simply picking up the phone?
  • Why does the person feel it necessary to meet? Don’t they have the confidence, skills or knowledge to make decisions or aren’t you trusting them, and their team, to make the decisions? Or haven’t you provided enough information to a client or been keeping in touch with them on a regular basis? Know any issues and successes before the meeting.
  • What are the goals – will they matter to all the people who attend? What will success look like to you and your criteria for a successful meeting? What do you think it will be for others attending especially a client?
  • What’s the cost of the meeting in comparison to the intended outcome? Include preparation, travel and attendance time plus all on costs i.e. cost of the room, travel and refreshments. And the opportunity cost? What else could have been done if people weren’t attending the meeting?
  • Will the Action Agenda be used? It should be used for every meeting, both external and internal. If you write the Action Agenda you’ll own the meeting even if you aren’t running it. As we know it gives focus.
And finally keep to time… even if you aren’t running the meeting make sure its on time – starting, ending and for the individual items. All too often so much time is spent on the early agenda items that there’s insufficient time for the important items and then another meeting is called…

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