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How Important Are Planning Meetings?

As I sit here on Labor Day morning drinking a cup of coffee, I have to ask myself, “How important is planning?” While many are scheduling their day off or readying the grill for a cookout, I am here planning for an upcoming emergency exercise. Does all this pre-event planning work really pay off?

In my field for a 3 or 4-hour emergency exercise, you might have half a dozen or more meetings to discuss the actual event. In fact, many of these meetings are built into the model that is used. The harsh reality is that many of these meetings accomplish very little. It seems that many of these meetings are held just to check off a box. Some have described these meetings as a meal at a Chinese restaurant, where you feel full when you get it, but after a little while, you wonder whether you’ve eaten at all.[1]

As we seek to make better use of our time and resources, we need to look at ways to either lessen the number of meetings or make them more efficient. A Forbes article I recently read laid out some ground rules that might help make planning meetings more effective.[2]

Make Your Objectives Clear

Make sure your meetings have a specific and defined purpose. If you are just having the meeting to check a box, you might want to reassess the need of that meeting.

Consider Who is Invited

Only invite who needs to be there. Nothing derails a meeting quicker than having someone who is not necessary chiming in, disrupting the process.

Stick to the Schedule

Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, and stick to it. This includes starting and ending on time.

Take No Hostages

A meeting needs some rules. You will have those who seek to monopolize the conversation. This could mean you get nothing done, so establish some ground rules early on to help with this.

Following these steps does not guarantee a successful or ultimately effective meeting, but it will help. Planning is an important process, but we need to make sure that there is a purpose in our meetings, and we are not just having meetings to plan for more meetings. Our time, and the work we do is too important for that.



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