“Why are we even here? What is the point of this?”
Have you ever said that to yourself in the middle of an offsite meeting? It happens more often than it should. And, while it frustrates all of us in just about any meeting, it can be catastrophic in an offsite meeting.
Offsite meetings are vital for teams to get together, connect, build culture, solve their most complex challenges, and create plans for the future.
But an offsite meeting without a specific objective and plan can be costly. Not only because of the opportunity cost of all the work that participants could have been doing during the day(s) of the offsite, but because, more often than not, participants won’t walk out of the meeting with a clear idea of what’s next or how to accomplish it. Then, you have a failed meeting.
We talked to leaders across the country as we prepared to launch MacroScope Studios, and one thing we heard over and over again was that an offsite meeting without a clear objective and purpose is destined for trouble.
So, how can you avoid this trap and ensure your offsite meeting is productive?
The key is preparation.
Too many offsite meetings operate by the philosophy of “Let’s just everyone together, outside of their normal routines, and we’ll figure it out!” That’s not enough. Here are a few things we do to make sure our offsite meetings run smoothly and deliver value to everyone in attendance.
- Align on the high-level objective. It might seem obvious, but it doesn’t always happen. Starting with an endpoint in mind is key, but making sure everyone knows what the group wants to accomplish in their time together is golden.
- Get in the right mindset. Everyone prepares for meetings and workshops differently. You know your team, so make sure that they have the tools they need to get in the mind space that gets them ready to contribute – including removing obstacles that would prevent them from truly showing up and engaging.
- Let them in on how you’ll spend the day(s). Once your team is aligned on the objective and they are in the right mindset, it is important for them to know the path the offsite will take to reach its goal. Will there be a mix of activities? Will there be small group work? Brainstorming? Are we doing what we’re supposed to be doing? And, importantly, when do we eat and when can I check my email?
When you are part of the right offsite meeting, you can feel the magic in the room. But in order to get to that magic, a lot of work is needed upfront. Thinking through the objective can help you design a meeting that matters.