“What’s this meeting about?”
When people ask this question, it’s because they are trying to figure out how to fit their needs to the meeting purpose.
When you neglect to convey the purpose of your meeting in advance, people will show up focused on their own agendas. That’s why they go off track—they’re unclear about what you want the group to accomplish as a collective. They will guess rather than know what topics to introduce. They’ll spend the first part of the meeting confused and the rest of the time frustrated that they aren’t prepared to accomplish what you’ve intended.
When you aren’t explicit, you disable the value they could bring. You lose engagement and accountability.
Explicitly state the singular purpose of every meeting. Reflect it in the calendar invite subject line. That helps those racing between back-to-back—a quick look at their calendar will remind of the focus when they enter the room.
Get real. Do a quick check of your calendar invites. How many show the meeting purpose in the subject line? If your meetings state a vague, ambiguous purpose, such as “Project Team Meeting,” how will those you invited be certain of what they should be ready to talk about so you achieve your intended goal?
Update your subject lines now. Explicitly reflect the purpose of each meeting.
For example, if you have a calendar invite subject, “Discuss Proposed Dates,” you might change it to “Decide Which Q3 Dates Work for Phase II Deliverables.” That would prompt each invitee to:
- Come to the meeting already aware of what dates in the timeframe work for them.
- Be ready to hear about what works for others.
- Quickly recognize if they must make some schedule adjustments to accommodate the group.
- Efficiently decide on dates you can all support.
On the other hand, if you were to keep the vague subject heading, “Discuss Dates,” invitees might assume the meeting is to react to dates you’ve already determined and therefore conclude the meeting isn’t as important as their other priorities. They will be more likely to:
- Decline the meeting invitation, or;
- Accept as “tentative” but not show up, or;
- Attend but derail the conversation, or:
- Attend but multi-task, half-listening (at best), believing their opinions can’t influence your decisions, so why bother contributing.
Generating a shared understanding of the purpose of each meeting is the first step in eliminating meeting pain.
Want to know what else you can do? Contact us.