HYCS #19 – Compelling Outcomes: Mastering the Phone Meeting, Part Two

HYCS #19 –Compelling Outcomes:  Phone Meetings, Part 2

The best meetings focus on a result that everyone has a stake in.   That’s the secret of the kind of collaboration that sweeps you up.  It is a little bit tricky to get the outcome  right and it’s so worth it.

+   +   +   +  +   +

Word Count: 853

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Assignment Time:  5-20 minutes

+   +   +   +  +   +

I remember only one staff meeting from my 20 years of being employed.  The rest made no impression on me at all.  The difference?  It was the only staff meeting that centered on a result that mattered to me.  Out of all those meetings just one was relevant to me.  It was the outcome – the result we were headed for – that made the difference

Write a Clear Outcome First

An outcome brings a group together. An outcome creates engagement by defining success.   It tells a group when it can stop.  It defines who needs to be there, and what activities are necessary and which are unnecessary.  An outcome tells a group who owns the meeting and project. Outcomes are the starting place for getting things done by a group. Without an outcome, you really don’t have a prayer of bringing a group together.

Make the Outcome Compelling

Not all outcomes are equal.  Some are not very relevant for participants, but are compelling for the boss.  Some are utterly compelling to every one in the room.   Those are the kinds of meetings that people remember for the rest of their lives.  That’s why it’s worth spending time to find the meeting outcome that brings people together.   After all, which meeting do you want to attend? The one where you are there because it’s mandatory or the one that brings you alive

Let’s look at the staff meeting, often considered a necessary evil rather than a joyous occasion.  Most staff meetings have a team update.  The update is where we go around the room and hear from everyone about the progress they made since the last meeting.


The team update is outcome-free.  It has no result.   You can tell because it’s very hard to define success.  Is it staying awake?  Staying interested?  Interrupting more than your teammates?  Having the most to brag about?  Staying in the shadows so no one will notice nothing has changed since last time?   And when are you finished?  An outcome defines the destination.  It’s satisfying to get there.  It gives you energy to arrive.

When a meeting is centered on an activity, it has no clear ending.  Either you run out of time or your run out of interest, but you haven’t achieved something valuable.  You’ve simply stopped.  Merely completing an activity doesn’t give a group the same bump in engagement, commitment and follow-through that achieving a compelling outcome does.

The Outcome – Meeting? – Activity  Approach

I think we have the meeting formula backwards  We decide to meet first, then choose an activity and try to make it yield some kind of result.  A better approach is to start by defining the outcome first, and then deciding whether a meeting is the best way to accomplish the outcome.  It may not be.  The activity you choose to accomplish your outcome may be to send out a survey, or a memo.

Let’s apply the Outcome – Meeting? – Activity approach to the team update.

Initial Outcome:  To share information about what everyone is doing so the boss is informed.

Meeting?:  Meh.  It’s convenient for the boss, even necessary, but is it the best use of time for the team?  Not really, so let’s contain it.

Activity:  Let’s use a dashboard approach and a timed round robin so we can get the done quickly.

That’s already a better outcome-meeting?-activity equation.  But the outcome is still mostly relevant to the boss, who needs to stay up on what her team is working on.  We can do much better if we change this outcome so it’s the best possible use of everybody’s time.


How about this:

Compelling Outcome:  Equip our boss with the information she needs to refuse or slow down work coming our way without getting her fired.

Meeting?:  Definitely – we need everyone’s input on this.

Activity:  Let’s make a list of all our projects with quarterly milestones and FTE estimates for each.  We can update it every meeting and move project milestones according to our needs, and our boss can communicate that.

When the outcome is compelling, whether you’re meeting on the phone or in person is irrelevant.

We all want meeting time to be a valuable use of our time.  A compelling outcome accomplishes that.

You can reach past the ho-hum activity-based approach to meetings with your staff and clients.  Don’t stop until you find the outcome that electrifies everyone in the room, the one that is for everyone in the room rather than just one or two people.  Once you find that, the details will come together as if by magic.  What seemed impossible is happening right in front of you.


  1. Pick a meeting activity and write an outcome statement for it.
  2. Make it compelling by making it relevant and interesting to everyone in the meeting.