How to Hold a Decision-Making Meeting

Decision-making meetings work best when they’re preceded by behind-the-scenes prep work. Here’s how to make your decision-making meetings go smoothly.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #262

Meetings! I just love meetings! No, I don’t. I hate meetings. Especially meetings where we have to make group decisions. My friend Bernice’s new store, Green Growing Things, is growing like gangbusters. Her lima bean plant has sprouted a beanstalk that’s vanishing into the clouds. The cute little plant she calls “Audrey 2” is already the size of a small dog. She’s raking it in and with all that money comes the need to invest.

Don’t Make Decisions at Meetings

Bernice has called a meeting. She, her colleagues Europa, Melvin, and I must decide what to do with this year’s profits. Decision-making meetings can get ugly. The Oreo Ice Cream Cake might end up planted on top of someone’s head, instead of resting deliciously in our tummies. That would be a waste.

Fortunately, you can make decision-making meetings go smoothly by getting the decision made before the meeting. Then the meeting itself becomes a recap of the factors leading into the decision, the rationale, and the decision itself.

Prepare with One-on-One Meetings

You get the decision made in advance by talking one-on-one to everyone who has a stake in the decision. You first want to know each person’s position, the plan of action they favor. You may find that there’s already consensus on the best plan of action, and the meeting will just ratify the decision everyone has already made.

Europa has confided that she wants to invest the shop’s profits in a Certificate of Deposit. Melvin thinks we should build a new greenhouse. And Bernice told me over lunch that she wants to donate our profits to a charity for bunny rabbits. She thinks they’re cute.

How to Hold a Decision-Making Meeting

Knowing each person’s position, it’s pretty obvious there’s no overlap. If we all walk in and state our position, there will be conflict, bad feelings, and possibly ruined Oreo Ice Cream Cake.

So we need to get one level deeper: we need to know everyone’s underlying interest.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.