If you want a glimpse into how well an organization is run, take a look at how they run their meetings. The value they get out of their meetings usually reflects how well the organization is run as a whole.
Meetings are designed to accomplish a particular objective. There are four types of meetings, each with a specific objective in mind:
- Decision-Making Meetings: These meetings are held when you need to solve a problem or come to a decision as a group.
- Informational Meetings: These meetings are held to introduce key information in a synchronous and dynamic way.
- Creative Meetings: These meetings are used to gather people to generate the best and most original ideas possible.
- Motivational Meetings: These meetings are used to gather people to gain commitment for an effort.
If you aren’t sure how to get information across effectively at work, hosting an informational meeting can provide the perfect setting.
What Is an Informational Meeting?
Organizations and businesses are constantly changing. This means there is a continuous flow of new information coming from all sorts of places. If you aren’t getting this information out to your team properly, you aren’t being a responsible leader. While some information can be conveyed easily with an email or memo, other information is more sensitive and pertinent to different members of your team. When this is the case, an informational meeting is your best course of action.
An informational meeting has one objective: introducing key information in a dynamic way to a large group of people. While emails can get information to a lot of people at once, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story (and can even lead to confusion). Informational meetings give you the perfect setting to not only give the facts, but also discuss new developments with the people that it will affect.
Preparation for an Informational Meeting
At a surface level, figuring out how to run an informational meeting seems simple. If the main objective of the meeting is to introduce information, preparing that message is all that should be needed, right? Wrong. How you convey the information is just as important (if not more) than the information itself.
The traditional model of learning has one speaker presenting the information to a passive audience. Although this has been the standard for most of human history, it has been proven ineffective. The best way to present information to your team is with a dynamic meeting. Everything should be up to discussion during and after the information has been presented. Interaction is key for total comprehension of a subject. In order for everyone to buy-in on the information, you have to make them feel like a part of the process.
So, when it comes time to prepare the meeting, think about what you can do to structure the process into an interactive format. By creating a collaborative environment, you are opening up the process to everyone involved, thus making people more comfortable with the information presented. Book a room that is built for discussion, and save a spot for yourself at the end of the table. A good leader will host a meeting where everyone is comfortable and aware of their role in the meeting.
Questions to Consider
In order to prevent confusion during the meeting, prepare as much as you can before you send out invitations. Consider these questions before you finalize the meeting’s logistics:
- Who needs to hear this information? This question will help you to figure out who needs to be involved in the meeting.
- Who is providing the information? When are they providing it? Make sure that people have a brief understanding of what will be discussed at the meeting beforehand, so they can come prepared with their own set of questions. Granular details aren’t as important at this stage, as they will be covered during the meeting. But prefacing invitations with a brief snippet of information about the topic will make people feel more comfortable with the meeting.
- Who will provide alternate perspectives? Nobody wants to walk into an environment just to get told something that they feel forced to agree with. Alternate perspective can make everyone understand the organization’s point of view on the topic and make the information more digestible.
It may seem easier and more efficient to send out a memo or an email anytime some new information comes across your plate. While you may be saving time in the short term, by not having a meeting, you may be causing more issues for yourself and your team later on down the road. Memos and emails offer a greater risk of the information getting lost in translation and causing more questions than answers. While it may not seem as efficient, it’s far more effective to hold an informational meeting than it is to simply send out the information to the team.
CO2 Partners offers executive coaching that will help you to understand everything there is to know about good leadership — above and beyond best practices for informational meetings. Learn more about our executive coaching opportunities.
By Gary Cohen