During a meeting, have you ever thought: “If only I'd known that a decision was to be taken on subject X today, I'd have prepped differently!” If enough of your colleagues are having the same thought, the meeting will soon become inefficient. What a pity, because it will last longer than is necessary or the decision in question will not be taken at all. And so another meeting needs to be planned on the same topic. What a waste of time! Luckily, such situations can be easily prevented. How? By clearly communicating the purpose of the meeting beforehand. Is there no target on the agenda? Ask what it is!
3 types of meetings
Generally, there are three types of meetings you can end up in, each requiring their own preparation style: the opinion-forming meeting, the informative meeting and the decision-making meeting.
An opinion-forming meeting focuses on brainstorming and discussing a topic, and the purpose of the meeting is to come to a mutual opinion. These types of meetings are common in local government, for example. The council may meet for an opinion-forming meeting prior to a full town council meeting. The opinion-forming council does not take decisions, but rather exchanges opinions and advises the town council on proposals for the agenda of the decision-making council meeting. Such an opinion-forming meeting can only be prepared effectively if you receive and read all documents well beforehand, giving you time to form your own opinion.
The term says it all: an informative meeting focuses on the exchange of information on a certain topic. One or more participants will convey information to the other meeting participants. We might refer to it as an informative meeting when the results of market research are to be presented, for example. The marketing manager has all the facts and informs those present about the results. There is then time for questions and room for discussion. There is often no need to prepare for such a meeting, which is good to know. After all, imagine thinking you will be participating in a decision-making meeting, and that not being the case! What a waste of all your brain work!
The purpose of a decision-making meeting? Decisive action! Participants tend to exchange limited amounts of information and stances, after which conclusions can be made and concrete decisions taken. This form of meeting is useful when you have established your targets and you want to check the progress of tasks. The participants come to conclusions and take decisions. A decision-making meeting is often preceded by an informative or an opinion-forming meeting. Give careful thought to your opinion therefore, before walking in the door of a decision-making meeting! What is the main conclusion which you believe must be made in this meeting?
If you and your colleagues are informed of the meeting target on time, you will prep better and your meetings will become much more effective. Would you like more tips on optimizing meetings? Download our e-book.