No matter what type of meeting you’re planning, the process should always begin with an in-depth discussion between the planners of the meeting and the owners of the meeting. There are numerous elements and details that need to be gone through in developing a good meeting, and perhaps you don’t have much time at your disposal. For this reason, it might seem inefficient to begin by planning logistics and the practical details.
But you have much to gain by beginning and maintaining the dialogue and talking through and deciding upon your objectives. It may be difficult to ask the the appropriate fundamental questions, simply because those questions are often very difficult to answer. But, in the long run, you will get back the time you spend in dialogue, reflection and prioritisation. You will reduce or completely do away with any doubt, poorly thought-through solutions and conflicts later in the process.
A series of effective questions, which irrespective of the type of meeting, can be useful and relevant, are listed below. Always begin with the questions that provide you with as broad a perspective as possible. Effect and Usage issues develop this perspective – so start there!
Then, work your way through the questions you feel are useful and relevant to your process. These will help you obtain a good overview and understanding of what you want to achieve with the meeting. From there you can then formulate concrete objectives.
How is this meeting linked to our values?
How does this meeting contribute to the company’s development/strategy?
What do we want to achieve with the meeting?
How will the meeting increase the company’s turnover/earnings?
If you could see a year ahead, what would this meeting have meant?
What change will this meeting bring about?
What should the participants know when they get home?
How can we follow up the meeting and determine whether or not the participants are using what they have learned?
How do we ensure that they go home and continue to be fully aware of the message?
What and who will influence the participants themselves when they get home?
How can what they have learnt be integrated into their everyday activities?
What methodologies will the participants learn?
How will the results be disseminated?
How do we ensure active participation throughout the meeting?
How do we ensure that the new knowledge is incorporated into everyday activities?
How do we ensure that participants embrace the new skills during the meeting?
What obstacles might the participants encounter?
What are the three most important messages that the participants should remember after the meeting?
What can the participants take home with them that will ensure they stick to the message?
Who is best able to convey the message?
How much/little information is needed?
What type of information, learning and details are best suited to the participants and the message?
What new information will be presented to the participants?
What behavior will be changed?
How can we motivate the participants?
Why is it important to pass on this information/knowledge in relation to a change in behaviour?
How do we ensure that participants have the right attitude to the topic and the task?
How can we make use of the participants’ knowledge?
What role will the participants have during the meeting?
How do we implement knowledge sharing?
How will the participants benefit from one another?
How can we arrange the participants so that it enhances the implementation of their new knowledge?
How can we ensure that participants create both factual and social relationships?
How will the learning environment be constructed?
How can the experience we create be a good one?
What feeling should the participants leave the meeting with?
How can we allow the setting for the meeting influence our goals?
What should the meeting contain to ensure that its participants will be happy and leave with confidence and a desire for change.
THE TARGET AUDIENCE
What are the different target audiences we have, and why these?
How can we divide them up?
How are they put together? Are there any cultural issues to take into account?
Why exactly should these people be taking part?
Who can be brought in to ensure that the meeting’s objective is achieved?
Who should participate?
By Ann Hansen, meeting developer, facilitator and consultant, concept+competence