Planning a Fruitful Meeting

Many people hate meetings, and it's easy to see why. Before you read any farther, ask yourself whether you really absolutely must have one. If so, there are some basic questions you need to answer, whether you do it yourself or decide to use a professional:

Begin to define the purposes of the meeting. What are the outcomes you are hoping for? Are there very concrete objectives, or is team building at the top of the list?

Be very clear about who really has to be at the meeting to get the job done. Remember that groups of more than seven rarely can make something together, like a mission statement or a detailed action plan. Often your best bet is to have some meetings of smaller groups before you bring everybody together.

Consult everyone who will be there about what topics and issues matter to them.

Collect background material about the issues and be sure everyone is well informed before the meeting.

Decide whether you want to create and facilitate an agenda yourself, or get help.

If you do it on your own, be sure to evaluate the results at the end in an anonymous format so you know how to do it even better next time.

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© Mary Dingee Fillmore, 2004. Copy with permission from