Fantastic Family Meetings + The Key is in the Planning

Fantastic Family Meetings + The Key is in the Planning




Family Meetings

Fantastic family meetings + the key is in the planning

As a family office professional, I can’t say enough good things about family meetings. Practicing effective communication is the glue that holds families together and conducting family meetings is one way to ensure the bond adheres. However, having a fantastic family meeting is more than just gathering the family around the table for a discussion. Proper planning and coordination need to take place to ensure the experience is worthwhile.


The first step in the planning process is to determine why a meeting is needed. What’s the purpose of the meeting, and what goals do you want to accomplish? Family meetings can encompass one or a variety of themes – family development, family business, fun. A good way to get group buy-in is to survey attendees to get their consensus on what they want the primary focus of the meeting to be. Ultimately, the meeting purpose needs to be relevant and engaging enough to motivate people to attend.

The below are examples of meetings I’ve facilitated with differing themes and durations.

Example 1: Family Business Theme (4-hour duration)

Purpose: Provide heirs with a general overview of the estate plan.


  • To clarify the intentions behind the plan structure.
  • To explain the plan mechanics (estate tools utilized).
  • To provide beneficiary instruction.


 Example 2: Multi Theme (all-day event)

Purpose: Promote family bonding and engagement.


  • To develop a Family Mission Statement.
  • To provide education on various topics.
  • To work through situations causing conflict.



Once you know what you want to accomplish in the meeting, you’re ready to formalize the agenda. The amount of time allocated to the meeting will dictate the breadth of the discussion. If the meeting length is a half-day or less, it’s likely only one or a couple of topics will be discussed. If the meeting is designed to be an all-day or multiple-day event, more diverse and interactive content will be required to hold people’s attention.

How you begin and end a family meeting is critical. Opening the discussion with a bonding activity is a good way to engage the group and set the tone for open dialogue. People tend to judge experiences based on how they felt at its peak and end (Peak-End Rule). Therefore, ending on a positive note will leave family members with a favorable impression of the experience you are striving for.

Once you have the agenda finalized, it should be distributed to family members prior to the meeting. That way, everyone has time to think about and prepare for the topics to be discussed, and you have a chance to make modifications if necessary.


When you’ve determined why you are meeting and what you are going to discuss, you need to make sure other key planning aspects are covered:

  • Are you going to have a family member run the meeting, or are you going to hire an outside facilitator?
  • Who should attend the meeting – only lineal family members or are spouses invited?
  • Where will the meeting take place?
  • When are you going to meet?
  • Who is responsible for paying for the costs of the meeting?

It’s important to address all required steps to ensure a successful meeting.


Planning an engaging family meeting is well worth the time and effort. A fantastic family meeting is a catalyst that brings the family together, promotes communication, and creates a memorable experience worthy of repeating. If you have any questions please contact us or learn more by reading related articles on our blog.


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