Two sentences for better meetings

Someone told me that all great meetings start and end with the same two sentences.

The first sentence of the meeting should be:

“The purpose of the meeting is _____.”

The last sentence of the meeting should be:

“The followup actions from the meeting are _____.”

It’s obvious advice, but every day I’m amazed how many meetings I sit through that don’t follow this rule. I’m equally amazed how the few meetings that start and end with these sentences are great meetings.

Meetings can be many types: status update, standup, brainstorming session, etc. These two sentences can make or break them. I go one step further and write the first sentence in the calendar invite for meetings I create. Many times, I stop scheduling a meeting because I can’t fill the blank with a sensible answer.

Like any software engineer, I avoid meetings. When I can’t avoid meetings, I look for these two sentences.

Productivity ⋅ September 2017