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Going for a win-win in meetings


Planning for an important meeting shouldn’t simply mean the planning done on the part of the meeting organiser. Obviously this person – perhaps as the project owner or the manager, for example – has an obvious vested interest in ensuring a discussion is as targeted as possible. They need to think carefully about the agenda and the topics they want to cover, and they need to think about what they want to achieve from all the ensuing discussion.


However responsibility should certainly not begin and end with them. In truth, meetings are most effective – both in the discussion and ideas they generate, and the outcomes they produce – when they are approached by all participants with the same level of preparation and commitment.


This means being aware of the meeting agenda, being clear on how you can contribute, and being prepared to provide suggestions and answers based on this understanding. Importantly, each individual should be conscious of what they, personally, want to achieve from the meeting – being clear, in particular, of how they can measure relative success or failure of the meeting’s outcomes.


For example, think of a meeting that is aimed at assigning tasks for an exciting new project. An individual team member should come prepared to discuss their understanding of the project, and have thought about what tasks they are particularly keen to undertake. They should be aware of their skills and experience, and how they might best contribute to individual tasks for maximum effectiveness, and they should be conscious of what this means for their perception of relative “success” during the meeting itself.


A good meeting, in this scenario, can then proceed with an effective discussion where every member is able to make a claim for their own personal “wins”. The result should – in theory, at least – be a team who all feel they have taken positives from the meeting, with nobody feeling stuck with unappealing or irrelevant tasks to perform.


Of course, theory and implementation are two separate things. However, being prepared for meetings, and planning them effectively to target specific agenda points, is one of the best ways to create “win-win” meetings that actually advance a project further.

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