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The first step in planning an agenda is to identify the goals for the meeting. Properly done, goals have five S M A R T characteristics. They are:

> Specific. The goal must tell exactly what will be accomplished. For example: During the next hour we will develop a strategy to increase market share by 10%. This states exactly what the group will work on. Vague goals can cause you to lose control of the meeting.

> Measurable. This helps you determine if the goal has been completed. It can be stated as a number (5 ideas, 10% gain, one decision) or as an achievement (Did we write a strategy or not?).

> Achievable. Goals must be realistic for the resources and time available. For example, most groups could identify twenty ways to reduce the budget in a fifteen minute meeting. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a group could develop a comprehensive marketing plan in 30 minutes.

> Relevant. To be meaningful, a goal has to relate to the overall mission of your business. Otherwise, you may be wasting time. Challenge each goal with the question, “What happens without it?” If your answer is “nothing,” cancel the meeting.

> Time. Specifying a deadline (e.g., by noon) or a rate (e.g., 3 per hour) moves activity toward completing the task and provides a criteria to measure progress. Of course, you want to select realistic times. As a final check, make sure your goals are so clear that someone else could use them to run your meeting.

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