Effective Meetings Begin Before the Meeting
All meetings, in a way, are sales meetings. You don’t meet just to meet. There is a sale involved even if you are not selling a product. Change has to be sold. Meetings have to be sold. The first and most critical question is do you need to have a meeting? Could you accomplish what you need by email or meeting a few people in person?
If you determine to have a meeting you must understand what you want to accomplish. This means you must develop a detail mission of the “why” for your meeting. Who will you invite and why “must” they be invited. Is your meeting voluntary or mandatory? If voluntary you must sell it to the people you are going to invite; you must give them a clearly defined benefit for them to attend. If your members must be there, it is mandatory, you must still give them a reason for their required presence. Now, I would ask for each person to send or give you a reply if they will be able to come; if mandatory, why they cannot attend. You must know in advance how many people will attend to prepare the meeting presentation.
Let me give you an example. My college fraternity chapter is having a fifty year meeting in March, 2015. We had a planning meeting yesterday. I arranged the meeting. The meeting was to go over the details and responsibilities of the active members and alumni chairman. I invited the members I thought needed to be there. I included the Chapter President and chapter project chairman. The alumni I invited was the alumni chairman and the chapter alumni advisor. The house manager was invited to give us her thoughts on food and activities at the house. The members invited knew exactly why we were to have the meeting and why they were invited. I chose the small meeting room at the chapter house. I had sent our decision we needed to consider. I met with the alumni chairman one hour before the meeting. All was set…. wrong.
At the time of the meeting the alumni advisor phone me to ask were we were meeting. I said in the small meeting room on the third floor. He said the room is too small we need to meet in the parlor. He said eight active executive members wanted to attend. I said we only needed the president and chairman, I was firm. He and the two members came up.
The meeting lasted ninety minutes. When we left we had the agenda, the meals, the responsible parties, the venues; most importantly, the two chapter representatives knew specifically what they and the chapter must accomplish.
Because I had clear idea of what we needed to accomplish and the members most important to the accomplishment of same, our meeting was successful.
We could not have accomplished the same with any more members or any less.
A meeting’s success starts in the planning stage. You must prepare to make the sale.