Goals are critically important for the success of a meeting. You must know what you want so you can ask for it. And the participants need to know what you want so they can help you get it. Without goals, a meeting becomes a journey without a destination.
Unfortunately, many meetings are called without goals. So, you hear people start meetings by saying, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” This is similar to walking into a factory and asking, “Well, what do you want to make?” You could end up with anything from ant farms to xylophones.
Thus, your first step is to write out a statement of the results that you want to have by the end of the meeting. I want to emphasize that you must write out the goals for the meeting. This forces you to define exactly what you want. Certainly, if you’re unable to express your goals on paper, you can expect to have difficultly explaining what you want to the attendees.
Writing goals also provides important benefits. It allows you to consider, explore, and discard possibilities. And then you can show the goals to others to obtain their comments and suggestions.
Asking for help preparing goals is especially useful when working on complex or controversial issues. Now you can 1) use their comments to refine the goals, 2) win support for your goals by including others in their development, 3) gain information on issues related to the goals, 4) uncover issues that may conflict with the goals, and 5) develop strategies for achieving the goals.
Once you complete the goals for your meeting, put them on the agenda. That helps everyone focus on your purpose for the meeting. And it significantly increases your chances of ending with the results that you wanted.