What to Ask Before Agreeing to Attend a Meeting

Managers spend much of their time in meetings. But some junior staff use meetings to showcase themselves. Or they invite their boss to help with work that they should be doing. In either case, such meetings waste your time.


Here are five questions that you (or your assistant) must ask before agreeing to attend a meeting.


1) Where is the agenda? A meeting without an agenda is like a journey without a map; it will always waste your time. Once you have the agenda, make sure that it consists of more than a list of words because this is almost useless. The agenda for an effective meeting provides a complete description of how the meeting will proceed.


2) What is the goal? Is the chair seeking an agreement, a solution, or a plan? Knowing the goal gives you head start on participating effectively. Be cautious of meetings that are held just “to talk about something,” because this type of meeting seldom accomplishes anything.


3) What is my role? Make sure that your participation adds value to the meeting. Avoid meetings where you have a superficial role, such as to find out what’s happening. In that case, ask for the minutes. If you’re needed to work on only part of the agenda, ask if you can attend only that part of the meeting.


4) How should I prepare? Make sure that you know about any research, readings, or surveys required to participate. Ask about the expectations for the other participants because this could influence your preparation. Attend only if you can prepare adequately or suggest another time for the meeting.


5) What should I bring? Should you bring a laptop? Will you be asked to give a presentation? Should you bring reports, data, or other information? Make sure that you have enough time to obtain the tools and materials needed for effective participation.


These questions will help you look like a success when you attend meetings.


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