Rick Lent is the co-founder of Meeting for Results and the author of Leading Great Meetings: How to Structure Yours for Success.
A good decision-making meeting will get the group talking, sharing concerns, and create the momentum needed for the next steps.
Share an agenda with the proposed decisions (including supporting materials) at least 48 hours in advance to allow everyone to productively prepare. You don’t want the participants to be surprised because they may become defensive and won’t be able to participate effectively in the meeting. If a decision is particularly complex or important, consider talking with individual participants in advance to answer any questions they might have.
There are several approaches a team can use when making a decision, and when the approach is not clearly communicated to every participant, the confusion can lead to inappropriate expectations, difficult conversations, and poor results.
In this template, you’ll use a consensus approach to making a decision and the purpose sets the expectation that the group will develop a common conclusion which all will support. Make sure to document supporting points, action items, the final decision, and if necessary, determine how the decision may need to be communicated to others who didn’t participate in the meeting.
When using the consensus approach, it’s important to give all participants a chance to speak and be heard, especially if you’re holding a remote meeting. Allow each person to share their thoughts and comments when the group seems to be getting stuck on a particular discussion point. Ask for reflections on what participants now understand, or don’t, regarding the original purpose of the discussion. Set a specific expectation for how long each person should talk and explain that no one should speak twice before everyone has spoken.
For more tips on effectively leading meetings and making decisions, check out Rick’s book Leading Great Meetings: How to Structure Yours for Success.