Since Stein's original proposal in 1962, a series of papers have constructed confidence regions of smaller volume than the standard spheres for the mean vector of a multivariate normal distribution. A general approach to this problem is developed here and used to calculate a lower bound on the attainable volume. Bayes and fiducial methods are involved in the calculation. Scheffé-type problems are used to show that low volume by itself does not guarantee favourable inferential properties. Copyright 2006 Royal Statistical Society.