Want More Successful Meetings? Start With Meeting Intentions

Mike Girdler

Meetings that don’t waste your time Have you ever been in a meeting and asked yourself, why am I here? Or, even worse, have you …

Meetings that don’t waste your time

Mixed group in business meetingHave you ever been in a meeting and asked yourself, why am I here? Or, even worse, have you ever left a meeting thinking, “well, that was a waste of my time?” One way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you in a meeting you’re running is to make sure, at the beginning of the meeting you clearly spell out the INTENTION of the meeting.

What is a meeting intention? It defines the exact reason for the meeting, what is it that you and the meeting participants are looking to achieve (i.e., your goal), and what you want to accomplish when you leave the room. A meeting intention might look like this: The intention of this meeting is to finalize the plan for (insert appropriate verbiage)….in the organization. The meeting intention is verbalized by the facilitator at the start of the meeting, and is written in a location where it’s visible during the meeting. The intention ensures everyone is on the same page and sets up your meeting for success.

Another benefit of outlining the intention is that it’s a great help in facilitating a meeting. It’s a guide to ensure that all of the conversation, agenda items, and activity go towards ensuring you’re accomplishing your meeting goal. Simply stop and ask yourself and the meeting attendees, “Is what we are doing supporting the intention of the meeting?” If yes, perfect, move forward. If not, park it and move on.

The meeting intention is a simple, but powerful technique. The combination of having participants understand the desired meeting outcome, with a mechanism that ensures all efforts are focussed on achieving your intention is amazing. If you’re a facilitator, try it at your next meeting. Even if you’re not running the meeting, simply ask what is the intention of the meeting,  and see how it helps everyone understand what needs to be accomplished. It’s truly a beautiful thing.


For more meeting tips, check out this pocket book, Good Meetings = Great Results!

Do you start your meetings with an intention? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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