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There are many mistakes that people make when running meetings, one of the most common of them being a lack of consideration around who they invite to their meetings. Deciding who to invite to a meeting can be tough because you don’t want anyone to feel left out or forget to invite someone important to a meeting. However, by inviting too many people to a meeting, you can unintentionally decrease the quality of the meeting.
According to research on group size, the most productive meetings have 5 to 8 attendees. If you invite too many people to your meetings, the following can happen:
After a while, people start to lose respect for the meetings and don’t bother to prepare or participate. On the other hand, by having meetings with smaller groups, you create a more intimate environment that is conducive to meaningful, candid conversations. When there are fewer people in the room, it frees people up to listen, consider each other’s perspectives, and create alignment.
People invest a lot of their time and energy into meetings, so you want to make sure that you’re optimizing meetings by inviting the right people. When telling your team about this new change to the way you do meetings, explain the “why” behind it. Let them know you are intentionally inviting fewer people to your meetings to make the meetings more effective. Explain how research shows that having fewer participants in your meetings leads to better decision-making and more productive discussions. It doesn’t have to be perfect from day one. You might have to do some experimenting to find the right meeting size for your teams.
In order to determine exactly who to invite to your meetings, it’s helpful to come up with the agenda first and allot enough time to discuss each topic. From there, think about who would need to attend the meeting in order to achieve the best outcomes when discussing those topics.
Who would have to be there in order for the meeting to achieve results? Who would you cancel the meeting for if they could not attend? These questions should help to lead you in the right direction. Only invite people who would add value to the meeting.
Be transparent about the criteria you use to determine who to invite to your meetings. The following are some of the people you’ll want to invite:
If there is some pushback from your team, make it more flexible by allowing people to request to attend if they feel that it is important for them to be there. If they provide a valid reason for attending, allow them to participate. You should also give attendees the option to decline attendance if they don’t feel like it’s valuable to attend.
In every meeting, make sure someone takes meeting minutes to share with those who are not in attendance. Encourage attendees to be active participants in meetings by reminding them to do the following:
Additionally, anyone who declines attendance to the meeting should take the responsibility of reviewing the agenda, supplying relevant information to someone who will be in attendance, and reviewing meeting minutes afterwards to get on the same page.
After you have put these meeting changes in place, track how effective they have been and how your team is responding by collecting feedback. Continue tweaking your process until you figure out what works best.
Keeping the number of meeting attendees at 5-8 people is a rule of thumb that should help you have more effective meetings. While it’s possible to have successful meetings with 20 or more people through adequate preparation and good facilitation, it should be the exception. By only inviting the necessary people to meetings day to day, you can have more fruitful discussions and achieve the best outcomes.
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