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Meeting attendees – in the room v in the loop

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One of the most important ingredients to achieve effective meeting outcomes is the PEOPLE element. If you get it right, it can lead to a successful meeting with targeted actions to achieve desired outcomes. But if you get it wrong, it can waste time, erode relationships and derail progress.

The core question to ask is – who needs to be in the room and who needs to be in the loop?

Consider the following before issuing the meeting invite:

  • DECISION MAKERS – Are you hoping to make decisions in the meeting? Check that those with the power to make those decisions are in the room without having to check with others before committing to an outcome. Often, having less people in the room when consensus needs to be reached makes it easier to achieve rather than superfluous attendees.
  • COMPLIANCE – If the purpose of the meeting is to satisfy a compliance requirement (eg for training or corporate updates), are the relevant people in the room (not their delegates)?
  • VALUE – Do the people invited add the right value to the meeting? Value is a multi-faceted concept. They may add value in terms of content – Do they have information or experience which will add to the discussions you hope to have? Or they may play a role in the dynamics of the meeting and energy in the room.
  • CONTROVERSY – If the meeting is likely to be controversial or cover issues that may create debate, there may be certain ‘calming people’ who can assist in the dynamics in the room. Or on the flip side, there may be firebugs who inflame discussions. Do they need to be present? Sometimes, someone may need to be invited for “butt-covering” reasons. That can be a valid reason for someone being in the room, but going through the process of considering their presence is an important reflection on the process for effective meetings.
  • RELATIONSHIPS – If the purpose of your meeting is to develop or strengthen a relationship or a team, are the right people in the room? If the conversation is sensitive, do you need a representative from human resources there? Are you mediating a relationship challenge between staff or is a one-on-one more appropriate?
  • IN THE LOOP – Often, there are people invited just to keep them updated or because they have always been invited without considering whether there are alternative ways to get the information to them. Sometimes, a decision needs to be made with certain people not part of that decision but being impacted later by the decision. Assessing when to update them and when to bring them into the discussions can ensure that progress doesn’t stall with too many people claiming a stake before decisions are made. Perhaps they just need to know the outcome, not be involved in the process.

Often who gets an invitation to a meeting is skimmed over in the planning process. We generally err on the side of caution and over-invite to avoid the “Why wasn’t I invited?” conversation. Spending a few minutes checking over who needs to be there, and why, can provide valuable benefits to the purpose of the meeting. It’s worth the investment to ensure you get the right people in the room to achieve the optimal outcome.

  • Bec Ordish avatar
    Bec Ordish
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