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Mar 12

Why Are We Meeting?

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Before I start any meeting I ask myself this key question: Why am I meeting? If I'm having lunch with someone I've done business with and the purpose is simply a relaxing hour, I don't worry too much what gets accomplished. However, on most occasions I have a specific reason for meeting, or I don't have a meeting.


In some instances I start the meeting with a statement like: “The purpose of this meeting is to ______________.” Or, “We’re getting together to plan a specific event.” During the meeting I make certain that minute-by-minute we make progress in accomplishing the objective of the meeting. Occasionally, conversation may drift off into a personal item, or we may talk about the weather for a moment; but I want to make certain that we get back to the topic and accomplish the purpose of the meeting.

Often there's more than one purpose for the meeting. In those situations I make notes of what I want to accomplish in advance. If I'm not responsible for running the meeting, I may ask the leader to state what the purpose of the meeting is and what the leader expects to accomplish.  Written agendas should provide this information.  It’s certainly part of the reason some meetings are more productive than others.

If a leader doesn't plan on covering what I see is important, I ask the leader if an item may be added to the agenda. If I don't have an opportunity for that conversation, I may look for ways to ask questions or insert information as a method of accomplishing my important objective. 

Years ago I was part of a small homeowners association that couldn't seem to pass a budget. The group would meet from time to time, but not much happened. To meet bills, everybody received an invoice for their share of what was owed.  That was the extent of their planning. In one meeting I asked four times if we could establish a budget for the association, and no one took up my request. Then I made a motion that we establish a budget, but my motion failed for lack of a second. Clearly, I couldn't accomplish my objective. I would have ignored future meetings except there was a social aspect involved in connecting with my neighbors.

We see an example in scripture when “The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” (Acts 19:32, NIV) While not as dramatic I've been in meetings that felt the same way. Why was I there?

In your meetings carefully clarify the purpose for the meeting in advance.  Make an agenda and stick to it as much as possible.  Then follow through.  Not only will you find that you accomplish more, you will save time by doing it.

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