Tips First Meeting

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that the first meeting of any group is critically important. In fact, this is probably the most important meeting you’ll hold during the life of your group. Think about it like embarking on a trip. You wouldn’t just get in the car and drive hundreds of miles to a set destination without directions, resources, or a plan.

In much the same way, the first meeting of a task force or other group must to be intentional and goal-oriented, and it needs to engage the appropriate resources. What might be surprising is that, while the composition or goals of your group may be very unique, the plan and resources you use to make your first meeting successful can (and should) be very standardized.

Regardless of size, industry, or composition, most groups should approach their first meeting with the central goal of reaching a clear and common understanding of six fundamental questions:

  1. What is our main purpose?
  2. What is our desired outcome?
  3. What probable issues do we face?
  4. What is our process?
  5. What are our resources and constraints?
  6. How and with whom should we communicate our activities?


Getting to Goal

Over the past several years, our team has facilitated hundreds of team and task force meetings. Time and again, we have seen that the quality of the first meeting impacts the success of the meetings that follow. It also often provides a glimpse into the level of success the group will achieve in the days, weeks, months, or years to come.

Despite a wide variety of content sessions – ranging from assisting garbage workers in develop­ing a plan for implementing two-person crews, to facilitating a task force on ending homelessness, to guiding an executive team through strategic planning – the process we use in the first meeting is very similar!

Every situation and every team is unique. So, naturally, you can expect that each team will answer these six fundamental questions differently. And it’s also likely that each team will uncover new or additional questions they need to answer and other points that require agreement before the real work can begin. By starting with a proven, standardized process, you can move into that more iterative phase with a higher degree of confidence and purpose.


How to Begin

As you design your team activation process, consider what you’re ultimately trying to do. For example, a full team activation process might be held as a team orientation or team building exercise. It might be intended to develop new organizational norms or to clarify individual styles and preferences among members of a group. Or it might be put in place to develop or supplement critical skills like interviewing, process analysis, or risk prevention strategies.

Regardless of what your group ultimately is trying to accomplish, just remember that how you start matters the most. If you can establish a clear, reliable road map for your team to follow at the very beginning, your task force will know how to collaborate on the bumpy road to success.

We’ve provided a sample high-level agenda for you to use in your next kick-off meeting. It is extracted from our “Team Activation Process” (TAP), a three-day immersive program. The agenda below typically structures a two to four hour session. Click here to learn more about TAP and how it can help your organization get to goal faster and more successfully, or contact a member of our team.