There are different types of meetings. Each type requires a different structures and supports a different number of participants. For instance, a status (feedforward) meeting has no limit to the number of participants while a decision-making meeting produces results faster with a small number of participants.
If you want to help your teams have more effective meetings, set the participants expectations about the meeting by stating in the agenda –
- the purpose of the meeting.
- the type of meeting
The typical meeting types are:
- feedforward (status reporting and new information presentations)
- feedback (reacting and evaluating )
- combination meetings
For instance, the agenda states that you will be a participant in a problem-solving meeting to scale the application so it supports 500 simultaneous users. That description makes it crystal clear what you are there to do. And after you participate in a number of the same type of meetings, you will know that meeting’s structure and your role.
Although it’s in the list, I don’t like combination meetings. Participants, in my experience, aren’t as focused in a combination meeting; thus the results are poor. If you insist on combination meetings, I suggest your break them into segments of different meeting types. Despite segmentation, time management for a combination meeting is more difficult than a single type of meeting because you have more than one purpose to achieve.
If you want to save yourself and your teammates time and effort, propose to management that the purpose, type, and agenda of a meeting be clearly stated in the scheduling request for every meeting.
Go the extra mile. Find out how participants rate the value of the meeting. Use that feedback to constantly adapt the design of the meeting to produce greater value.
Michael Doyle and David Straus, How to Make Meetings Work, ISBN 0-515-09048-4, pp.159-166