The Purposes of Meetings

The purpose of meetings falls into two areas – Task focused purposes and People or process focused purposes.

If you are starting to question the purpose of some of the meetings which you are involved in, use the following list to help you and your colleagues re-define the purpose of your meetings.

Task Focused Purposes

Objectives of this type of meeting include:

Forecasting meetings

These are often a good way of getting people together from different areas to generate forecasts.

Planning meetings

These are also a good forum for planning so that different viewpoints and requirements can be accommodated at the outset.

Reviewing performance

When reviewing performance at the team or individual level a meeting is often essential so that exceptions and trends and matters arising can be addressed at the time and lessons learned can be shared.

Generating ideas

Brainstorming often works well in a meeting with interplay between participants often conducive to the production of ideas.

Making decisions

Where decisions require a consensus of the parties involved it is effective to use a meeting to make them.

Developing strategy/ goals/ objectives/ targets

Where there is a specific output which requires the input of a number of parties a meeting is an effective way of achieving it.

Education and development meetings

These are effective for developing people through education and feedback.

Resolving issues

Where the relevant parties are brought together in a meeting and a specific issue is dealt with.

Exchanging information

These can be used for information but it is important that it should incorporate the exchange of information – merely disseminating information can often be achieved more effectively without a meeting.

People or Process Focused Purposes

If we are busy fulfilling deadlines, solving problems, meeting customers’ needs, we often focus entirely on the task in hand and forget about the people involved.

It is possible to have task focused meetings which achieve their purpose, but in the process de-motivate, undermine and generally dismiss the people involved. Therefore, it is important to remember the people element to any meeting. You need to set both task objectives and objectives for the process as well.

The following are some people or process focused objectives that you might like to consider:

Building and maintaining rapport

Rapport is an essential ingredient in effective working relationships. Without a good connection with other people to oil the wheels of work, things can get very sticky! Therefore taking time to really listen to each other when you do get together can help to maintain rapport. This is even more important when you are all very busy.

Giving praise, encouragement and thanks

Hopefully you want people to come away from a meeting feeling positive about their contributions and motivated to go away and carry out any necessary actions. People often forget the power of genuine, appropriate and timely praise or thanks. However, be warned that unless you have genuine rapport with the people concerned, the praise and thanks might backfire, so build rapport first.

Sharing lessons learned

If you develop an atmosphere of trust in your team and everyone has some rapport with each other, it can be useful to share each other’s lessons learned. This can result in you avoiding duplicating mistakes or re-inventing the wheel.

If you set out to achieve both task and process objectives you are more likely to end up with meetings that are productive, efficient and motivating.

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