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Why Are We Meeting? How to Set Meeting Objectives That Drive Productivity

Looking to improve how you run meetings by setting straightforward objectives ahead of time? Check out these examples and learn how to write an objective clearly and effectively.

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all joined a meeting feeling like we have no idea what’s about to be discussed and what we’re expected to bring to the table. Similarly, we’ve all exited a meeting thinking that nothing was accomplished and that our time was wasted.

Whether you’re a meeting host or an attendee, it’s crucial that you avoid these feelings by setting clear and concise meeting objectives and goals before you and your team gather together to have a discussion. No matter if it’s simply a one-on-one video call with your direct reports or the company’s executives all discussing budget plans for the upcoming year, not having definite objectives set beforehand sets your team up for failure.

To avoid this, take the time to set objectives well before the meeting begins. Unsure how it’s done? Fellow is here to help.

What are meeting objectives (and why do they matter)?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse a meeting’s purpose with the meeting objectives. To put it plainly, the purpose is the why a meeting is being held, while the objectives are part of the outcome you wish to accomplish once it’s all said and done. If you’re asked ahead of the business meeting “what’s the point of this meeting?” the objective will answer this question.

For effective meetings, setting the objectives and goals ahead of time, meaning you and all of the meeting participants have a clear understanding of why it’s taking place and what will be discussed, is crucial to not only be as productive and efficient as possible, but also to the success of the outcome. And of course, they need to be set ahead of time so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. The last thing you want to hear at the end of a meeting is “this could have been an email.”

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to plan and organize your meetings by having a collaborative agenda with important talking points and action items.

For Deb Lee at Digital Productivity Consultant, this is a must-do when planning a meeting. Lee shares:

“Shorten meetings when possible, always have an agenda, and an action items list that includes who will do what and when. Fellow.app can help with agenda and action items.” 

5 examples of meeting objectives 

Before you can write your objective, you first need to establish the type of meeting you’re holding. Is it to plan a new strategy? Or maybe to solve a problem your organization is facing? Regardless, the objectives will give attendees an understanding of what will be expected, so no one is blind sighted, and so they can join the meeting ready to have a discussion around specific action items. 

Take a look at these examples of meeting objectives to help you understand what your objectives may look like.

1 Planning

One of the most common types of meetings held is with the purpose to plan something for your organization. When a meeting is centered around planning, the objective can look like:

  • Plan sales metrics for the upcoming fiscal year
  • Plan what the new diversity and inclusion initiative will include in the next quarter
  • Create a plan to improve the onboarding process for all new hires
  • Develop a plan of action surrounding a new recruiting strategy for open positions

2 Problem solving

Meetings can also be scheduled as a way to solve complex and critical problems that your organization is facing. Once you dive deep into the problem at hand, the meeting participants can put their heads together to come up with various solutions and secure the commitment to enact the solution once the meeting comes to a close.

For these types of meeting, the objectives can look like:

  • Come up with five potential solutions for going over budget
  • Come up with a compromise for the disconnect in communication within the marketing department
  • Find an optimal solution for the disconnect in communication within the finance and sales teams
  • Find a way to better set realistic deadlines within our team
  • Create a new plan to reduce customer churn in the second half of the year

3 Brainstorming

A brainstorming session can be a little more loose, but it’s still a good idea to set up objectives and a meeting agenda so your team can be prepared and the discussion doesn’t go off the rails. Some examples of brainstorming objectives are:

  • Brainstorm options for how we can shorten the sales cycle
  • Come up with new ideas for how we can rebrand and redesign our website
  • Create a list of new ideas for how we can raise money for charity in the new year
  • Come up with ideas for how to double sales in the new year
  • Create a list of long term and short term goals you’d like to hit in the next quarter

4 Decision making

The majority of major business decisions happen inside a boardroom, and the most important decisions that impact an organization have their own dedicated meetings. Typically, an objective for a decision making meeting is for the end-result to be those in attendance coming to an agreement. 

Meeting objectives for these types of meetings can be:

  • Decide if we need to scale back the hiring initiative set forth at the start of this year
  • Decide if we have the budget to hire five new sales representatives this quarter
  • To choose and agree upon the best way to roll out a new product or tool

5 Building morale

Sometimes your team needs a little boost in morale. If you’ve noticed a decrease in energy and excitement from your team, it may be time to build it back up.

No matter the reason behind low morale from your employees, it requires a proactive response from leaders. Meetings that center around boosting the mood of your team can have objectives like:

  • Plan for the upcoming holiday party and discuss theme, menu, and yearly awards
  • Find new ways to recognize and celebrate team achievements in monthly meetings
  • Create a strategy for recognizing employees that hit their end-of-year goals ahead of time
  • Find ways to be better celebrate small milestones throughout the year 

How do you write an objective for a meeting?

Now that you have a clear idea of what an objective may look like, and the type of meeting you’ll be hosting, you can begin writing.

To start, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you want to come to a unified decision once the meeting is over? If so, what is that decision?
  • Do you want to generate a list of ideas or goals? If so, about what?
  • Do you want to gather status reports from your team?
  • Does your team need to create a plan of action regarding a certain problem the organization is facing?
  • Are you making plans or coming to a solution with your team?

When you answer these questions, you can start to write an objective or goal, or a series of objectives, for your meeting. To help you truly know what the objective of the meeting is, think about what you want to have accomplished once it reaches a close. 

When you schedule the meeting, consider writing the objective in the calendar invite. This can say something like, “To decide what our team traffic goals will be at the end of the upcoming fiscal year.” You can also make it clear and explicit when naming the calendar event, so nothing gets missed and attendees come prepared.

Calendar Invite

When you begin the meeting, start by clearly stating the objectives, just in case any attendees missed the memo.

If your team is using effective meeting software, like Fellow, this is easier than ever to stay organized. You can build going over objectives directly into the meeting’s agenda, so you don’t go off track and that the meeting will start with clarity surrounding what needs to be accomplished.

Staff Meeting Agenda Example

Speaking to the importance of memos is Marissa Goldberg, Founder of RemoteWorkPrep. Goldberg states:

“I say no to most meetings and encourage a lot of asynchronous communication. If I do have a meeting, there is a clear agenda with expectations, only necessary people are invited to attend, and decisions and action items are sent following the meeting.” 

A smarter way to set and achieve goals

When the meeting comes to a close, you should feel confident in the fact that your team stayed on topic and worked together to discuss the necessary objectives and action items. There should be no confusion as to whose job it is to accomplish which item and it should be a priority to send a recap email so no talking points or responsibilities slip through the cracks. 

Double-check your meeting notes and meeting action items that you took using Fellow so that everyone is clear as to what is expected and whether a follow-up meeting is needed to further discuss any withstanding objectives.

Keep an eye out for more posts regarding making sure meetings are effective as possible on Fellow’s blog!

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