In a communications class this week, I worked with some managers and directors who recognized their many meetings were not as productive as they should be.
Part of the problem was that their meetings did not have a stated purpose with specific outcomes. Sure, they knew they were getting together to share information, plan, or solve problems–or maybe all three. But they did not plan, start, or conduct their meetings with a focus on the results they wanted.
What does their search for meeting success have to do with business writing? This: All they needed were a few words to focus their meetings on results.
Let's say the Spanish language committee at a company wants to hire a new Spanish instructor. One item on their meeting agenda might be:
- Discuss interview questions.
How would the group know they were successful in their discussion?
If the agenda included just one additional sentence, they would know when they had reached their goal:
- Outcome: Agree on behavioral interview questions.
When the meeting attendees agreed on the interview questions, they would know they had accomplished something.
Here's an example from a planning meeting:
- Agenda item: Discuss plans for trade show.
- Outcomes: (1) Confirm list of activities. (2) Identify who will coordinate each activity. (3) Decide on essential action items for this month.
The words outcomes and results guarantee better meetings. When you add them to your agenda, it's much easier to keep the meeting on task, especially when you review the outcomes or results you want at the start of your meeting. An agenda item like "discuss" can take a group anywhere, but "Confirm a list" and "Decide on actions" give everyone a focus. And they make it easy to leave a meeting smiling.
You can also guarantee high-value meetings by writing efficient meeting notes and minutes. Learn how in my online self-study course Meeting Notes Made Easy.
I wish you productive meetings!