Plan better meetings with design thinking

„Oh, I wish I was at a 2-hour, pointless meeting right now,” said no one ever. Most of us working in collaboration situations are aware that not all meetings are needed, that they are too long, too confusing, don’t reach any consensus, and sometimes create even more confusion!


But do not fret! This is yet again where design thinking comes to the rescue! With just a bit of willingness from you, and the below tips, you’ll be able to cut the unnecessary tittle-tattle to a minimum. And, in addition, offer others the blissfulness of free time and hassle-free conversations!




If you consciously make an effort to apply the blow, you will:

  • Decrease the number of meetings you attend or organize.
  • Shorten the time one meeting takes.
  • Provide structure and guidance to meetings and their outcomes.
  • Get the love of your coworkers for making their life breezier!

Isn’t this all worth it? Let’s get right into it!



If you know who, you’ll better plan how. It’s important to get the meeting participants on your side, because if they feel better, if they feel taken care of and listened to, they will help you achieve your goal.


So, before planning anything, find out the following:


  • Who is going to be in the room?
  • What are the needs of the participants – and look at them both as individuals, and a team.
  • Who won’t be in the room, but might be affected, or their opinion might come into play?
  • In what culture the meeting will happen?


In reality, it’s impossible to speak to everyone face to face before the meeting (but if you do have that privilege, do it), however, you can always try to get the answers judging by the teams they are in or projects they work on. Many times, if they have shared calendars, you can get lots of information from their agenda! And if you have regular meetings, don’t just do this once – check in now and then. Plans evolve, and so do people, don’t get stuck in a rut with your recurring meeting.




Now that you know what others want from the meeting, it’s time to connect it with the actual topic. Of course, there is a goal for the meeting, yes, it’s not just to pat the participants on their backs. But you can redefine that goal to suit their needs and show them how it will help achieve them, how it will get them closer to the domain they work in.


Basically, answer this question: if this meeting is successful, what will the participants feel, think, learn, and do after it’s finished? Include those findings in the agenda, make them known, so everyone can already jump on the „umm, this will help me, yes” wagon.




Time to put the finding from above to practice – create the agenda. Make sure you tie all the information together to present a clear and goal-oriented plan for the meeting. Important: send it beforehand and give the participants some time to address any concerns they might have. Let me have a say on what the meeting is trying to achieve, and adjust to their requirements (to the best of your abilities, of course).




Learn from each meeting. See what works for people, notice what helps them. Help them help you. And experiment (to some extent) during the meeting, so you can adjust the way you plan and address the participants. Test and learn.




I don’t only mean to apply what you found out through the process. But always follow thought with your promises, always be closing what you started and give the participants a sense of fulfillment. Let them know that their attention was appreciated. Provide all necessary elements to match their needs and prove that you take their time seriously (which ties us back with empathy). Establish relationships and maintain them.




Yes, the above may sound like a bit overboard for each meeting. And I’m not going to lie, it will feel like a separate job at first, yes. But, like with everything, practice will make you perfect. Empathizing will feel like second nature, and you’ll get skilled at writing more concise agendas in no time. But, most importantly, you’ll gain supporters for your causes. You’ll earn people’s gratefulness for being clear, to the point, helpful. Most importantly, you’ll get what you want while helping other people! Worth it!