When NOT to call a meeting

This is a message for those who never chose to be a group facilitator, but nevertheless have had responsibility for meetings thrust upon them.

Before your next meeting, drugs take out a piece of paper or open your computer and complete the following four sentences.
1. The purpose of this meeting is to

a. Discuss ___________
b. Decide_____________

If there is nothing important to discuss or decide, do not call the meeting!

2. The people I need in the room for this discussion/decision are: ________________________________________________________________________

If the key people are not available, do not call the meeting!

3. The information needed for this discussion/decision is: ____________________________________________________________________

If the information is not available, do not call the meeting!

4. The time estimated to accomplish the meeting objective is:

a. Less than 1 hour
b. 1-3 hours
c. More than 3 hours
d. Other

If the participants´schedules and workload make it difficult for them to commit to a long meeting, consider spreading the process over several, shorter meetings. But DO set time limits – and respect them!

If you are satisfied that a meeting is necessary and feasible given the human and other resources at hand, then create a simple agenda designed to make the best possible use of the time available.

Unclear on the concept of “Agenda?”

The agenda is the map that keeps the group on track, moving toward the agreed upon meeting goals. Adjustments are made along the way to adapt to the emerging realities of the situation, but the agenda is the group´s common reference point. Where are we? Where are we going? How will we get there?

Sample agenda

Here´s an example of a one-hour agenda to discuss (but not necessarily decide) what to do about a given situation:

  • Clarify the purpose of the meeting and present the proposed agenda (10 minutes)
  • Present background information (15 minutes)
  • Generate options for resolving the issue (20 minutes)
  • Define next steps and assign tasks (10 minutes)
  • Set date for next meeting (if needed)
  • Thank the participants and let them get back to their other work!

Good luck with your next meeting!


About the Author:

Beatrice Briggs is the founder and director of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change, a consulting firm based in Mexico. A Certified™ Professional Facilitator, she puts her years of experience at the service of leaders who want to make their meetings worth the time, talent and money invested in them. A native of the United States, Beatrice has lived in Mexico since 1998, working in both English and Spanish to alleviate the suffering caused by bad meetings wherever they occur.