It is not necessary or useful to invite the whole team to every meeting. When the meeting objective and the topics on the agenda are of no relevance to them, people easily become distracted, begin to check the messages on their cell phone and stop contributing to the conversation. Another error is to not invite those most passionate about the issue, or who have information that is key to the discussion, or who will be responsible for implementing the proposal.

Example of inviting the wrong people: Oblige all the teachers in a school to attend a discussion that only affects those in the science department.

Example of a focused invitation: Ask all those who will be teaching the new science curriculum to attend the meeting. Anyone else interested in the topic is welcome, but not obliged to attend.

Benefits of correcting this mistake:

  • Justifies the investment of the participants’ time
  • Makes better use of the experience and knowledge of those invited
  • Avoids problems that could arise later because key stakeholders were not consulted

In practice: Explain both in the invitation and also at the beginning of the meeting why this particular group has been called together and what is being asked of them today.

Facilitation tip: If the agenda includes topics that are relevant only to some of the group, schedule these after the issues that involve everyone. When you reach this stage of the agenda, make it clear that those who are not needed in this part of the agenda are free to leave – without having to apologize!

Each person in the meeting room should be able to answer the question          “Why am I here?”

This is the second of five messages about common mistakes that that make meetings boring and unproductive. You can see the complete list in our new, free guide: Excellent Meetings at Work.