Productive meetings have a productive purpose

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Business meeting effectiveness often comes down to one piece of advice: have an agenda for the meeting. That’s okay, but it misses the bigger point: What kind of meeting are you creating the agenda for?

There isn’t one kind of meeting. There are several. How effective your meeting is first requires you to define the type of meeting you will be hosting. Then creating an agenda that makes sense for that type of meeting.

In the big picture, you need to get to accomplishment for every meeting you host. That accomplishment is dependent on the meeting type. If you don’t define the type of meeting you are hosting, everyone walks into your meeting with a different set of expectations, preparedness and focus. Better to define the meeting type to help everyone get on the same page. Or agenda.

In this series on Cube Rules, I’m going to take a look at the different types of meetings we have and how each should work to get to an accomplishment for the meeting.

Let’s define the meeting types.

The Decision Meeting

The decision meeting — let’s face it — is rare. Or, getting to a decision in a meeting is rare. Much of the reason for the rarity is that we don’t define the meeting as a decision meeting nor do the right work ahead of the meeting to make sure a decision can be made during it.

A decision meeting is where you are looking for a specific direction on a topic or approval for something. The decision can be as straightforward as agreement to move on to the next phase of a project or higher level to get approval for a strategy to take as a department.

The Status Meeting

Status meetings are just that: give status of your work. There are lots of problems with status — they tend to go off into everything except status of the work in progress.

I’ll take a look at what the pitfalls are of the status meeting and how to handle them.

The Workshop Meeting

The workshop meeting is a meeting where a group of people come to work on a specific set of tasks. Whether it is information to fill out, rehearsing how a cut over will go, or building a solution to a problem, workshop meetings offer a great productivity opportunity. Or a total time waste.

The Panic Meeting

You’ve seen these: some bad event happens and everyone gets in a room and…flails about trying to make a bad situation right. Panic meetings really show your organizational maturity. And maybe yours, too.

The Brainstorming Meeting

The brainstorming meeting is really a specific type of meeting. Unfortunately, almost any meeting can break down into a brainstorming sessions instead of the original purpose of the meeting. How many times have you been in a Decision meeting only to have it end up being a brainstorming session? Yup. Me too.

The “Holy crap, what are we doing?” Meeting

You know this one: everyone meets to work on a project for the first time. Or a new leader (maybe you!) comes in to a failing project and the first meeting is the fiasco of everyone trying to figure out what is wrong, what to do, with no ideas on anything.

Yeah. That one. There really is a good way to handle this kind of meeting. It’s just rare that anyone uses it.

Are there other meeting types?

In the comments, let me know of there are other meeting types you’d think apply. I’ll take a look at those, too.

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