The Four Os of Meeting Prep

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My current work doesn’t require me to run or attend a ton of synchronous meetings, and that is as it should be. Most in-person meetings are poorly organized and happen because someone doesn’t want to do the hard work of thinking about a problem and doing some writing. I admit that I’ve been guilty of calling meetings like this on the past! I’m a recovering meeting addict myself.

Getting five people together for an hour doesn’t cost an hour, it costs five or more hours! There just aren’t that many situations that warrant the expense. However, a meeting that is well prepared can be super valuable. Here is a simple framework to make that happen.


  • What are the circumstances around the meeting?
  • What took place to make the meeting about to happen?
  • Why am I calling everyone together?


  • What do I need to have happen during the meeting?
  • Did I see a conversation that got confused and I need to sort it out?
  • Are you setting expectations?


  • Is there anything that might block the objectives?
  • Is there context missing for me or others before the meeting?
  • Is there history between the stakeholders involved?


  • What do I want to walk out of the meeting with?
  • What solutions serves all of us the best?
  • What do the other participants most need to happen?


  • I called a meeting because…
  • Origin: I saw some convos in our team slack about X that I think were miscommunications.
  • Objective: Ensure we understand what we’re talking about with regard to A, B, and C so we can have a shared understanding moving forward.
  • Obstacles: I don’t know the obstacles and background history of the last project Y that people have referred to.
  • Outcome: To clarify the misunderstanding so that we can make sure we have a shared understanding of what we need to do next.

🗒 I came across this and other communication-related tips while reviewing the treasure troves of learning resources offered at Automattic.
I do work there and you can too. 😃

Comments welcome!

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