Have you ever attended a meeting where the organizer doesn’t offer you an agenda? You might show up with major curiosity, but you may not be as receptive to the presenter’s information if you don’t know what’s coming next.
Setting meeting goals can transform chaos into organization. Without goals, your meetings can be unproductive and even confrontational. Meeting objectives help everyone in the meeting operate as a team.
That doesn’t mean that you need participation from every member, although that’s often necessary. However, if the team members don’t feel invested in the presentation, they might drift off as others are speaking. They may not take the information that they learn beyond the meeting space.
Meetings should be useful and productive. Everyone involved should be on the same page. Their time should be respected. Setting goals can make the difference between a meeting that matters and a waste of time.
Why Should You Set Meeting Goals?
Meeting goals help everything go smoothly. That much should be fairly obvious. But what some don’t realize is that goal setting allows you to evaluate whether the meeting went well.
Part of the goal-setting process is to create an agenda. That agenda lets you not only schedule and run the meeting in an organized fashion but also document how the meeting progressed.
If the meeting seemed unproductive, ran late or created conflict, you’ll be able to analyze what went wrong based on the goals and notes that you initially set up. How can you do things differently next time? You’ll be able to answer that question clearly when you know how you did things this time.
Goals help a meeting flow appropriately. They also let you know when to hold a meeting in the first place. If you’re not achieving goals in various departments in your organization, you can gather your teams to help everyone get on the same page.
How Do Meeting Goals Differ from an Agenda?
Goals and agendas are related. The two complement one another. However, they’re not the same thing.
A meeting goal tells you where you want to be when the meeting is over. The agenda gives you the details about how you’re going to get there. In other words, the goal is the destination, and the agenda includes the directions.
Goals are the specific results that everyone involved in the meeting should be committed to working toward. They provide focus and direction.
Goals can be long-term or short-term. You can set goals for the outcome of a meeting. You can set goals for the way that the meeting progresses. You can set goals for meetings that are about your bigger-vision goals.
The agenda includes the topics that you’re going to discuss at the meeting. It always involves short-term action steps.
You can think of an agenda as an outline or a to-do list. It exists separately from meeting goals. You can set goals without an agenda and vice versa.
However, that would not be wise. To have the most productive, organized meeting, your agenda should support your meeting goals.
The best way to create your agenda is to allow your goals to dictate it. You can’t write up an outline without knowing the purpose of the meeting. Well, you could, but you might not get much accomplished.
Using an agenda and goals, you can craft efficient meetings that are powerful and don’t leave room for floundering. You should provide these to your members before the meeting.
Doing so gives them time to decide whether to come to the meeting. It also clarifies who will address which topics and prevents confusion. An agenda provides structure so that time is used wisely.
Are You Interested in Improving Your Meetings?
Think about the last meeting that you were part of. Perhaps you led the meeting. Maybe you were part of the team. It doesn’t matter.
How did the meeting go? It might help to reflect on the following questions:
- Did the meeting feel organized?
- Was the material presented well?
- Did everyone involved in the meeting get a chance to talk?
- Did people want to give input but weren’t able to?
- Was the meeting open, or did it have an agenda?
- Do you know what the goal of the meeting was?
- How well does your team function in general?
- How well did people communicate during the meeting?
- Was the goal or agenda presented to you before or during the meeting?
Being able to evaluate the meeting based on the answers to the questions above can help you tweak your goal-setting strategies. If you don’t answer the questions first, you’ll never know if things have improved.
Therefore, the first step is to be aware of the current situation. Making notes about it will help you see how far you’ve come once you implement meeting goals.
Best Practices for Holding Meetings
A positive meeting experience upholds constructive team processes. It helps to understand some of the best practices for facilitating meetings.
Let’s start by talking about best practices for meeting goals. Your goals should be extremely focused. If you have to cover a wide range of subjects, consider holding several separate meetings. People will lose interest if your meetings are too long or don’t pertain to them.
If you find yourself inserting a variety of concepts into your agenda or goal-setting process, keep those notes. You can use them to establish your goals for the other gatherings.
Keeping the goals and agenda tight will limit off-topic discussion before, during and after the meeting. Even if you’re holding a formal meeting, you should provide written goals and an agenda. It’s hard to stay focused if you don’t.
When holding a meeting, you should:
- Decide on and disseminate the logistics – Give advanced notice, make sure that people know what to bring
- Distribute the agenda and goals – Provide these ahead of time if possible
- Begin and end on time – Respecting people’s time helps future meetings go well
- Go over any rules or guidelines – Decide how to handle latecomers and interruptions, how long each member gets to speak and how unfinished business should be dealt with
- Allow time for members to check in – This invites team members to feel heard and participate in setting the tone for the meeting
- Summarize conclusions or pronouncements – Include these in the meeting minutes
- Assign action items – Give tasks to different people and include them in the meeting minutes
- Come up with plans for improvement – Evaluate team progress by considering what has gone well, whether goals were met and what members have accomplished and use the data to plan for the next meeting
- Distribute meeting minutes – Minutes serve as reminders of what was discussed and who is responsible for action steps
Different Types of Meeting Goals
There are so many different types of meetings. The goals must be specific to the situation. You have to come up with your goals based on the bigger objectives.
If you’re working in an organization, you should take into account the company’s mission and aims when you’re setting up meetings that involve several employees. However, many times, meetings are designed to accomplish a micro-task.
You might set up a meeting to discuss a single project. In that case, the project’s goals are likely to be aligned with the company goals already. The meeting goals should be as specific as possible to streamline productivity.
Recurring Team or Department Meetings
Team meetings open the door for communication. During these get-togethers, colleagues can often have conversations about their priorities and pressing issues.
These are also chances for everyone to educate themselves on what other employees are doing. Being aware of your peers’ objectives, tasks and accomplishments can help you be more creative, increase your motivation and improve your productivity.
Team meetings also bring together people with different knowledge and skillsets. They let people put their heads together to solve problems and open their perspectives.
If you have regular team meetings, you should set a goal for each one. The goals may be similar from meeting to meeting. However, they should be specific. You might have different priorities this month than you did a few months ago. If you don’t set goals each time, your members might start losing interest, or meetings may become chaotic.
Some goals for recurring team meetings could be:
- Report on progress made
- Update others on your current status
- Discuss what needs to be done before the next meeting
Project meetings might involve people from different teams or departments. During these gatherings, you should focus on the current status of the assignment and what you need from the other team members.
If this is one of the only times that you come together to work on the project, you need to come with questions and an open mind. You may want to set brainstorming goals or come up with ideas during meetings like this. You might also set a goal to finalize decisions that have been made separately before the meeting.
Have you ever been part of a brainstorming meeting that makes you feel frazzled? Many organizations have stopped using this type of meeting because they’re not always effective. But brainstorming meetings can inspire creativity and help your team engage socially. You can contribute to their effectiveness by setting goals.
If you run a brainstorming meeting, you need to do more than come up with a laundry list of ideas. You need to set goals for what you want to achieve during the gathering.
You could generate the ideas and then vote on them. You might want to assign some suggestions to a team member to research.
Here are some mistakes people often make when facilitating brainstorming meetings:
- They don’t have clear objectives
- The members of the group are too similar
- The supervisor shapes the discussion and censors the conversation
- Criticism is allowed before ideas really flow
- Starting to analyze before you’ve generated enough ideas
- Not following through with your inspiration
You can prevent or resolve these mistakes by setting meeting goals.
First, make them specific. You might want to phrase your goal as a question, such as, “How can we increase sales by 25% next quarter?” The question shouldn’t be too specific or you might prevent some ideas from arising. However, if it’s too vague, it won’t streamline the conversation.
Your goals should also take into account the types of people who you want to hear from. Perhaps you need the perspective of a client or an executive. Make sure that those people are included in the conference.
You should also know how many people you want to include in the meeting. The “pizza rule” says that if more people than you can feed with one pizza attend the gathering, the meeting won’t be productive.
Coming up with goals together can prevent an autocratic leader from taking over. If one person dominates the discussion, creativity can be squelched. Even if a supervisor comes up with the goals for the meeting, those objectives should be broadcast and agreed on by everyone else involved as soon as possible. At the very latest, the goals should be discussed at the opening of the assembly.
Your goals should include the number of ideas that you want to generate. These should be expressed without judgment. Something that can end a brainstorming session prematurely is jumping on ideas as soon as they’re articulated and analyzing them too quickly. Let great concepts breed other insights before you weed out the ones that won’t work.
Finally, make sure that you set goals to take your ideas to the next level. Your goals might include the following:
- Come up with a written plan within 48 hours from the meeting
- Decide on four ideas to research for further planning
- Assign tasks to team members to expand on the ideas produced
Board or Committee Meetings
When members of many different departments come together, you should decide how much of the information needs to be discussed during the meeting. In many cases, you can explain a lot in writing to update members before the gathering.
If the meeting is voluntary, participation may wane when the summit lasts too long. When you set a goal for each meeting, you tell the people involved that you value their time.
To keep your board motivated and engaged, you need to consider why they joined. When you understand their reasons for being a part of your organization, you can cater to them in your meetings. Their passion might need to be re-ignited.
If you’re not sure why your board or committee members became involved with you in the first place, consider asking them directly. One inquiry that you can make may be, “What goals would you like to see this organization accomplish?” You might also ask about their personal goals.
When you know the answer to those questions, you can tailor your meetings appropriately. Firespring recommends limiting board meetings to 90 minutes at the most. Thinking strategically will help you stick to the agenda.
Organizational meetings happen at the launch of an initiative. You need to unite your participants, clarify their roles, identify strategies and set up action steps. You can’t do this all at once, though.
During organizational meetings, you don’t need to go over the entire process. You start by getting people on board.
Therefore, your goals might have to do with addressing the lack of opportunities that you want to solve by launching your project or enterprise. By the end of the meeting, you’ll want to have a good idea of the people who are willing to help.
If an organizational meeting is held for a corporation, it will be much more formal than an organizational meeting for your kid’s soccer team. During this type of meeting, you’ll likely:
- Ratify the articles of incorporation
- Issue initial shares
- Elect officers
- Approve bylaws
An official organizational meeting should be held by an initial director who is named in the articles of incorporation. If that person isn’t named, an incorporator can lead the meeting.
Business.com says that you shouldn’t hold meetings to discuss status updates. Straightforward information dissemination can often be handled via email.
You should organize meetings when you need feedback from everyone involved. You can also use gatherings to improve employee morale.
One way to do this is to address special accomplishments during the assembly. If a particular staff member has done something notable, point it out in front of everyone. Celebrating your employees may motivate them to continue working hard. You should also open the floor to let workers congratulate their peers.
Beyond that, staff meetings should be two-way conversations. Open the floor to discussion, but keep it within your agenda.
Potentially the most informal types of assemblies, family meetings help everyone in the household get and stay on the same page. Because this type of meeting is so casual, it’s especially important to set goals for it.
However, you can probably be the most flexible in a family meeting. You might not get the best participation from family members under five. However, they should still be included. Anyone who lives in the home should attend the meeting.
You can also be as creative as you want in this type of meeting. Let different family members lead. Consider holding the meeting at your favorite restaurant or the park instead of your living room.
Some goals for running a family meeting include:
- Talking about what happened last week
- Making sure kids are doing their chores
- Ensuring that children are getting the support they need
- Financial goals, such as saving for a vacation or purchasing a new gaming system
- Discussing plans for the upcoming week
- Sharing what family members love about each other
Make sure that you discuss only one problem or topic at a time, however. You want to make family meetings enjoyable.
Does it seem redundant that you’d need to establish goals for a meeting that allows you to set objectives? Goals should be a consistent part of life. The more often you use a goal-setting practice, the more productive and efficient you’re likely to be.
If you’re a manager, you might hold goal-setting meetings with other people at the same level as you. These meetings may involve several people at once.
You will also need to hold these gatherings with your team members. You may choose to hold goal-setting meetings with employees individually.
No matter how many people join your assembly, you need to have goals and an agenda. Preparatory work involves setting your own goals. Make sure that those are aligned with your company’s mission and your boss’s goals.
You should also assess your employees’ performance before meeting with them. You can certainly use software and technology to track specific metrics. However, a computer should not completely replace employee-manager interactions.
Before the meeting, ask your employee to draft a list of goals. You might want to give them some guidance on this. When you meet, you’ll go over the draft.
As you discuss the goals, ask the following questions:
- Are the goals relevant? – You can gauge whether an employee’s goal is pertinent by asking yourself, as the manager, whether the goal would affect you or the organization. You don’t want your employees wasting time on tasks that won’t make a difference. If the employee’s goal aligns with one of your own, it’s probably appropriate.
- Is the scope of the goals appropriate? – Goals need to fall into a sweet spot between easy and challenging. If they’re not inspiring enough, people won’t be motivated to follow through. However, goals that are too hard can be frustrating and make people give up. If goals seem too grand, help employees break them down into more achievable pieces.
- Are their enough goals? – Too many goals can be overwhelming. If you don’t have enough, on the other hand, you might be neglecting some of your responsibilities. Experts say that three to seven is often the magic number for the total number of goals you should pursue at one time.
- Are the goals results-based? – There is conflicting evidence about whether goals should be based on activities or results. You don’t want your employees to come up with to-do lists. However, you need them to be in control of their goals. No matter what, achieving the goal should be a viable option for your employees.
You can use the bullets above to come up with a checklist that you can use at goal-strategizing sessions. Writing down notes even when you’re meeting one on one can be handy when assessing whether goals have been met.
How Long Should a Meeting Last?
The ideal time frame for a meeting depends on the type of meeting and the people involved.
Nikol Steinbok says that the 22-minute meeting is the primary way to make sure that the assembly is efficient. Her steps for ensuring a productive gathering include:
- Scheduling the 22-minute meeting
- Establishing a goal-based agenda
- Sending required reading a few days ahead of time
- Starting punctually
- Standing up
- Prohibiting laptops or phones
- Focusing by making a note of distracting comments
You don’t have to restrict your meetings to 22 minutes. You can round up to 30 or adjust them based on your needs. Research shows that concentration dwindles after 30 minutes.
But the standard time allotted for meetings in online calendars is one hour. Should you let a meeting run long because people showed up late? You might think that you should at least schedule the gathering for 45 minutes just in case.
If you allow for more time, you’ll usually have plenty to cover. But it won’t make your meeting more productive. If you set a precedent to start 15 minutes late, people won’t understand the importance of arriving on time.
Begin your meetings punctually. If tardiness becomes a problem, set a goal to get 100-percent punctuality the next time. You might want to reward employees for showing up on time or cut the end time down by five minutes so that people have time to prepare for their next task.
More Tips and Tricks for Facilitating a Successful Meeting
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos recommends starting meetings silently. When Bezos meets with senior executives, he hands out reading materials and begins the gathering by having everyone read the memos to themselves.
This gives the moderator and the attendees time to think. They get a designated chunk of time to do the required reading. They can take notes. Bezos’ meetings have been known to start with up to 30 minutes of quiet time for longer memos.
Bezos claims that this tactic works because it makes sure that everyone gives their undivided attention. It would be obvious if someone were chattering in the last row. Someone checking their cell phone would stick out like a sore thumb. Starting the meeting with silence ensures that everyone is focusing on the same thing.
If you don’t have reading material to peruse, you might want to start the meeting by having members read your goals or agenda.