Whom Do You Invite to a Meeting?

The success of your next meeting depends upon whom you invite. Here’s what to consider.

1) Invite only people who can contribute to the meeting. Spectators bog down the time of action.

2) Avoid filling the meeting with allies as a show of force. This intimidates your “opponent,” which can consequence in counter attacks, retaliation, or false cooperation.

3) Avoid inviting people because they would feel offended if left out. A meeting is a business activity, not a party. You can always ask the person to choose between watching others work in a meeting or being left to work on responsibilities that contribute to raises and promotions.

4) Be sure to invite the stakeholder (the person who owns the issue). This person is a valuable resource in finding solutions.

5) Make sure the opponents to issues attend your meetings. They can help you find equitable solutions that they will sustain. Without them, any results that you develop are likely to prove useless.

6) Invite meaningful participants with minor roles to only the part of the meeting where they can contribute. Schedule these parts of the agenda at the beginning of the meeting or when you begin again after a break.

7) Invite spectators for good reasons. For example, you may invite a new employee to learn about an issue; you may include members of other organizations to win empathy for your needs, you may invite an outsider to catalyze creative thinking.

8) In general, meetings that are held to make plans, seek solutions, or reach agreements work best when eight to twelve people attend.

9) Any number of people can attend parties, social meetings, lectures, or displays.

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