Most of us know the feeling of entering a meeting room without being entirely sure what type of meeting it actually is.
Naturally, we will often know the other attendees and we might have some idea of what the cause of the meeting is. However, we aren’t necessarily certain when it comes to defining the purpose of the meeting. Purpose, in the sense of a shared understanding of the desired and expected outcome.
One challenge is that the word “meeting” holds different meaning to different people. Some might simply define a meeting as a gathering of people talking informally about this and that, while a meeting to others will be a strictly controlled process having a defined goal and an explicit set of rules.
Trouble occurs as the various perceptions settle in with their individual expectations (most likely, more perceptions than the two we have mentioned here). In fact, trouble already rises when meeting invites arrive in everyone’s inbox.
Anything that is obvious to one person may be completely obscure to someone else, and calling for a meeting with no clear-defined plans or expectations means risking attendees take part completely unprepared.
You may have attended a meeting and been asked for certain information that you hadn’t acquired or prepared to present. You probably had the opposite experience as well. You were at a meeting, fully prepared to join in and present information, only to realize that the point of the meeting was for attendees to receive information and otherwise remain silent.
Either scenario ends in a waste of time. How do we avoid this? Make it clear in the notice what kind of meeting it is. Whether it be a decisive, informational or inspirational meeting.
You might also want to read: Guide: Choose the right environment for your meeting
The Decisive Meeting
As the name hints at, decisive meetings have the goal of making one or multiple decisions.
In this case, it’s imperative that the person in charge of the meeting does not succumb to the temptation of handing out information, asking for input or bringing about new options.
The focus should be on making clear decisions. To do so, the decisive meeting requires attendance of participants with authority.
The Informational Meeting
Informational meetings share relevant knowledge and facts between key people in the organization.
This type of meeting rarely requires attendees to spend a lot of time and effort preparing, but does require the meeting facilitator to be explicit and take charge of running the meeting from beginning to end.
Questions and comments should be welcomed, but remember to stay focused and do not let discussions obscure the clarity of any decision reached and agreed upon.
The Inspirational Meeting
Inspirational meetings develop ideas. A good inspirational meeting will make way for new views.
This is a type of meeting that may lead to exceptional results, but can be difficult to manage. Ideas evolve erratically, but this exact unpredictability may be what sparks the best ideas.
Be sure to have a proper setting for this type of meeting and consider changing the scenery. Maybe moving the meeting outdoors or perhaps to some inspiring and surprising location?
Whichever type of meeting you’re planning next, it’s crucial that you make the meeting type clear for attendees to lead to a productive meeting.