Don’t Wing It, Visualize It!

Don’t Wing It, Visualize It!

Designing Effective Meetings Starts with the End Game in Mind


In a recent New York Times Business article, author Adam Bryant presented rules for running effective meetings. He wrote about having an agenda, being on time, and finishing with an action plan. We applauded… and we have one more item to add:


The outcome.


A vision of the meeting outcome is more than an agenda—it’s the difference between knowing you want to go to France to see art and knowing the optimal days and times to visit the Mona Lisa. Your desired outcome shapes everything, from the topics you present for discussion to the people you invite. It helps you define activities that will draw specific feedback and accountability from participants—the essential elements of the plan that will move your initiative forward.


The most experienced facilitators use these steps to envision their outcome:


  1. Start with questions. What do you want to hear in this meeting? Solutions, new ideas, or opinions? What projects will be impacted by the answers you get?
  2. Think about organization. Using the answers to your questions, think about how you organize a discussion and activities that will lead people to give you what you want and need from the meeting. What questions should you ask first?
  3. Create your invitee list. Now that you know what you want to accomplish, ask yourself who you need to bring to the table.


Through this process of discovery, you will break down the meeting and structure the dialog you want to have. Here’s a novel idea: Be a meeting athlete! In a 2009 article in Psychology Today, AJ Adams wrote about the power of visualization and shared examples of athletes who move through every step of their performance in their minds. Envisioning the outcome of your meeting using these cognitive steps will transform you from a meeting leader to a meeting designer. This kind of preparation and organization is the key to running meetings that produce results.