How to set clear goals and expectations for your meetings

Jill Anderson Graphic

Inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, once said: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” When it comes to understanding what you want to achieve in a meeting, this couldn’t be more true. 

Preparing for a meeting is one of the key components to its success. According to Inc, ineffective meetings cost American companies around $283 billion a year. So how can you ensure you set meeting goals for your meetings to help your team deliver to your expectations? Let’s have a look at some steps you can take to achieve success.

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Why are you meeting?

Identifying the purpose of your meeting is crucial for setting clear goals and expectations. After all, how can you expect to achieve a specific outcome if you don't know what that outcome is?

As a business leader, you likely have a lot on your plate. If you’re not meeting with stakeholders, you’re trying to stay on top of important decisions. Your time is valuable, so it's important to make sure that every meeting you hold serves a purpose. You need to live by an important rule, don’t waste time catching up with people when the conversation can be an email. 

Before you even start inviting people to your meeting, take a few minutes to think about the problem or issue you need to address. What do you hope to achieve by having this meeting? Do you need to make a decision? Solve a problem? Brainstorm new ideas?

Once it’s clear in your mind what the purpose of the meeting is, you need to make this clear to all attendees. This not only helps to set the tone for the meeting but also ensures everyone is on the same page and can come prepared with ideas and solutions to contribute.

By doing this you can ensure your team knows what is expected of them and you'll be setting the stage for a successful meeting. Not only will this save time and increase efficiency, but it will also help to ensure you’re making progress toward your business goals.

Group meeting with man standing
Who needs to be there?

This is more crucial to your meeting’s success than you think - especially when it comes to group meeting scheduling. If the wrong people are there it can lead to lots of side conversations and is far more likely to go off-topic. All of that is wasted time that can easily result in you having to meet again and drive you further away from what you want to achieve.

As a business leader or entrepreneur, it's important to carefully consider who do you need in order to effectively address the issue at hand. This might include relevant stakeholders, decision-makers and team members who have relevant expertise or experience.

It's also important to consider the size of the meeting. If you have a lot of people attending, it can be harder to have a productive discussion and reach a decision. Too many cooks spoil the broth as they say. On the other hand, if you don't invite the right people, it can lead to a lack of buy-in or missed opportunities for input. Think carefully beforehand, make a list or talk to other managers to refine who you need to attend.

Once you know who to invite, the challenge will be finding a time. A scheduling tool like Doodle can help you find a time quickly without having to get lost in an email back and forth. You can make a poll and start to get confirmations in minutes.

Create an agenda 

Many people often forget them but an agenda is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to set clear goals and expectations. Not only does it help to ensure you stay on track and don’t drift away from the allotted time or discussion, but it also helps attendees come prepared with their own ideas and solutions.

For CEOs and executives, it's important to take a few minutes to outline the topics you want to be discussed in the meeting, as well as the time allocated for each. This can help to ensure all topics are covered and the meeting stays focused.

It's also a good idea to identify who will be responsible for leading each discussion. That could be you or someone on your team with a greater insight into that area. This is really going to help you take away tangible results from the meeting.

Group huddle
Don’t forget to follow up

There is very little point in meeting if you don’t get something from it. That’s why follow-ups are important. It's the best way to ensure any next steps or action items agreed upon in the meeting are happening. With Doodle it’s easy to find meeting time to make this happen.

First, it's important to review the progress made toward meeting the goals set in the meeting. This might include checking in on the status of any action items assigned or reviewing the progress made toward solving a specific problem. By doing this, you'll be able to ensure everything is on track and take action if it starts to go off the rails. Catching problem situations early is key to mitigating any potential disasters.

Effective follow-ups also help foster a sense of accountability among your team and ensure tasks are completed in a timely manner. It's a good idea to establish a system for following up, such as sending a summary of the meeting along with action items to all attendees. A regular 1:1 process is also a good way to make sure you’re keeping up to date with everything that’s happening in the business. 

You’ll find achieving success in your meetings is much easier if you plan ahead, use an online meeting scheduler and have clear goals and expectations. Understand why you are meeting, who you need to be there, create a structured agenda and, importantly, don’t forget to follow up. Apply these steps every time you need to have a meeting and a boost in productivity will surely follow.

Plan ahead, get ahead

Don't lose prep time trying to get people together. With Doodle, you can find the best time to meet in minutes.

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