The Startups.co Guide : Get The Most From Your Calendar (Part 3/6)

By outlining clear expectations and goals before scheduling a meeting, you’ll get more out of each meeting you have—During meetings.

March 14th, 2017   |    By: Wil Schroter    |    Tags: Management, Productivity, Virtual Assistants, Time, Staff, Advisors, Mentorship & Coaching

CHAPTER THREE: Start with the Outcome

In This Chapter:

-How to set goals to accomplish before scheduling a meeting
-How to communicate clearly when calendaring


How often do you start a meeting with a clear indication from everyone in the room with what you’re supposed to achieve after you leave?   If you’re like most, not often.

Most calendar appointments look like this:

Subject: “G8 Summit: Meet to talk about Impending Asteroid Collision with Earth”

Awesome.  You’ve let everyone know that 1. You are going to meet and 2. That there is an open ended discussion happening about the cataclysmic destruction of the planet.

However on the brink of Armageddon it’d be nice to know that the folks responsible for this discussion focused more on the outcome of the meeting than the subject of it.

Here’s a slightly better way to frame this meetup:

Subject “G8 Summit: Finalize details and enact Counter-Asteroid Launch Plan”

Set Goals First

A nice question to ask before starting any meeting is “What do we want to achieve before we leave?”

Think of a million possible scenarios that you’ve been a part of – all those endlessly crappy meetings – that could have been avoided if someone had just asked this one simple question.

By setting goals early you achieve a few critical things:

  • Force people to get to the point before the meeting.  Love sitting in cyclical management meetings where people just provide updates for the sake of providing updates?  You do?  Wow, you’re a terrible person.
  • Potentially avoid meetings.  The Grand Poobah of reasons to ask the goals ahead of time.  All Jacobim Mugatu wanted to know was whether we should showcase the Piano Neck Tie in next year’s fashion show?  Wow, we just saved an hour of our lives by realizing that early and just answering in an email.
  • Drive preparation.  Knowing the specific goals and outcomes allows everyone to be better prepared in the meeting, leading to shorter meeting times and better resolutions.  Not telling anyone what the goal is ahead of time leads to the opposite of that.

Confirm the Goals

Elapsing time is a powerful force, and among its many powers one of them is taking once-important meetings and making them now-not-important.

By being explicit about goals, it makes it easier to determine over time whether that pending meeting is still relevant to all parties.

Let’s go back to our earlier example:

Subject: “G8 Summit: Meet to talk about Impending Asteroid Collision with Earth”

Hm.  Was that meeting about what to do about it?  About the fact that it was avoided? About the fact that we are all now particle space dust floating in the cosmic abyss?  I’m not sure, because it’s impossible to determine whether a meeting should still happen if no one defined its purpose ahead of time.

Set Goals First, Calendar Second

The key here is to just simply get in the habit of taking a minute to align on goals before just setting up meetings all willy nilly.

This is a great task to put on the plate of your potential assistant to make sure every meeting you attend has a deliberate purpose, or more importantly, that those that can’t seem to find a purpose magically make their way to meeting Neverland.

Key Takeaway:

By outlining clear expectations and goals before scheduling a meeting, you’ll get more out of each meeting you have.  During meetings.

All chapters:


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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