Are you hosting effective meetings? Part 1

Understanding the difference between tangible and intangible objectives can help your meeting outcome.

Have you ever attended a meeting and thought to yourself after it was completed “I’m not sure why we were even here,” or “Well, that was a waste of time.” Having the meeting convener disclose whether the meeting will have a tangible results oriented objective or be a communication oriented objective is critical for participants to be clear on expectations.

Results-oriented objectives are tangible. They focus on what should be achieved by the end of the meeting. They are the answer to the question “If this meeting is successful, what will we have accomplished?” Most meetings should have at least some tangible results. They are the driving force behind decisions about all aspects of a meeting.

Results oriented objectives have two essential parts:

  • Action: What the group will do
  • Outcome: Results of that action

Communication-oriented objectives are intangible. They focus on information that needs to be communicated at the meeting. Meetings can have some intangible objectives, but always consider whether there is a better way to share the information. Objectives with intangible outcomes usually begin with words such as discuss, update, review and explain. For example:

  • Discuss the problem.
  • Update team members on our budget status.
  • Review a report.
  • Explain the new policies.

The chart below highlights meeting objectives, the action, and the desired outcome. Before hosting your next meeting, ask yourself what the true purpose of the meeting really is and then share that with attendees. 


The Michigan State University Extension Leadership and Community Engagement team offers professional development training, including volunteer board development, communicating through conflict, meeting management and facilitation skills development. To contact an expert in your area, visit the expert page or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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