Clarifying Aims and Purposes

Meetings aims or purposes should be at the top of every agenda. These are the key decisions that must be made or actions that must occur at the meeting. If you aren't clear on aims and purposes, don't meet.

Everything else on the agenda-topics, times, presenters, are the activities that, taken together, will accomplish the aims.

How to Clarify Your Meeting's Purpose

One way to clarify aims is to ask oneself, "Imagine the meeting is over. What do I hope will have happened?" When the agenda activities and time allocations have been decided, ask "If we complete these agenda activities, will we have accomplished our overall aims? Additions or adjustments in the agenda may be required.

Sample Meeting Aims/Purposes:


Type of Meeting


Planning meeting for a research center

  1. Revisit mission of the center
  2. Identify key processes necessary to success of the center

Board of visitors meeting

  1. Identify existing or emerging issues the school should consider in its planning
  2. Decide on alternatives for addressing shortage of professionals
  3. Update members on school activities

Monthly staff meeting

  1. Fill gaps in course coverage for Spring
  2. Decide on priorities to include in budget
  3. Discuss potential of cluster hire proposal

Departmental Retreat

  1. Determine how to restructure teacher certification program
  2. Review and refine merit process

Cross-Functional Group

  1. Agree on criteria for success
  2. Identify existing and potential linkages