Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

The Most Important Tool for Online Meetings

What’s the REAL secret to effective online meetings? An outcome-based agenda.

An outcome-based agenda is an action plan. It states “what will have changed” by the end of the meeting. All agenda items should lead toward achieving those changes.

A Plan, Not a Grocery List

If you’re thinking that “something changing” seems like a big leap for a 30-minute meeting, consider these outcome stems:

  1. By the end of this meeting, we will have discussed…
  2. By the end of this meeting, we will have brainstormed…
  3. By the end of this meeting, we will have decided…

Take a look at the differences in complexity of each outcome above. Typically, the more complex, (such as #3), the longer a meeting you will need. *

If you cannot think of anything that will change, do not hold the meeting. A meeting without an outcome is just a waste of time.

The Future Perfect Tense

Note that outcomes use a verb with an “ed” on the end. Using the future perfect tense makes it obvious that you have a clear end in mind.

Take the time to figure out exactly what is achievable in the time allotted. Then state that using the future perfect form of the verb: “By the end of this meeting, we will have ________ed)…” Magically, by stating your outcome this way, the meeting gains a much better chance at success.

By using an outcome based agenda, your meetings will become shorter, less painful, and more productive.

* By the way, the outcome is NOT a pre-determined “solution”. (For example, consider: “By the end of this meeting, you will have come up with the answer I’ve already decided.”) The group must feel ownership for the outcome they achieve.

Want to improve your facilitation skills? Try our “Leading Stellar Online Meetings” workshop. Contact Guila today.


5 Responses to “The Most Important Tool for Online Meetings”

  1. Joe Donohue says:

    I am right in the middle of developing an agenda for a bi-weekly series of meetings on a very “dry”, complicated topic. This information has been very helpful to design a meeting agenda to keep a large group on task and to focus our discussions. Thanks, Joe

  2. Kbellemare says:

    Hi Guila: Missed you at the NASAGA conference in Vancouver. I enjoy your postings – excellent tips and useful techniques.

    My new website will be launched shortly (a week or so) I will send you the contact information.

    Best wishes

    Ken Bellemare
    Boring Be Gone !

  3. Guila says:

    Thanks, Ken. I wish I could have been at NASAGA!

  4. Guila says:

    I am SO glad, Joe. Let me know how your meetings went!

  5. Diane Markus says:

    I participated in the mini-workshop for public health professionals on May 10. Thank you, it was great. And this is a wonderful tool. May I print 6 and share with my management team?

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