The first thing to do is to determine if you even need this meeting to take place. Sometimes meetings happen without prior thought to what their purpose should be and how to bring that to pass. If you think that a meeting is a way to go, ask yourself some quick questions before scheduling it.
But, first things first, what is a meeting?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a meeting as “an act or process of coming together.” A meeting is a gathering of two or more people coming together for a specific purpose. These are commonly held when multiple people need to decide on agendas or ways to achieve a particular goal. They may occur when face-to-face interaction is required to make a decision. Meetings may also take place over the phone or a video chat. A meeting can be informal, such as a social meeting with friends, or a formal gathering, such as a business luncheon.
To avoid wasting time and resources, communication for a meeting’s purpose is critical. Everyone, at some point in time, has attended a meeting and thought during or afterward about why it even happened. Don’t waste time in a meeting that could have been an email or quick one-on-one discussion with someone.
First, clarify the purpose of your meeting and write it down. Second, decide if this a one-way conversation that can be handled in an email or a phone call. And, don’t forget to ask the critical question if any of the information that needs to be shared of a delicate or personal nature. This brings in to question about figuring out who will be attending this meeting and why. And lastly, do you have enough time to prepare adequately?
So, what are the seven rules for planning a meeting?
No matter the purpose of a meeting, whether business-related or not, there are specific tasks which need to be completed to accomplish the underlying goal of that meeting. This is where planning comes into play. Yes, meetings can be boring even if planned out, but remember that you need to make sure it is necessary. And, they can be extremely efficient and productive when planned correctly.
The First Rule: Identify the Purpose of the Meeting
There are multiple reasons to hold a meeting. And, the success of your meeting starts with defining why you need to have it and setting the goals and objectives the event will address and solve. Make sure when making the list of reasons to hold the meeting, you are clear and concise. Clarifying the purpose of your meeting is an essential part of planning your event. And, clear goals and objectives help with the effectiveness of communication. This ensures that everyone in attendance understands why it is important.
Creating an Agenda
Because all meetings should have a clearly defined purpose, it makes sense that every meeting should have a clearly defined agenda. Creating an agenda will improve communication, even if your meeting is small and only has a few in attendance.
Lay outa sequence for the meeting. Plan time for a brief introduction to provide context, and for a discussion of next steps at the end. Decide how much time to devote to each item and what order makes sense. The longer it is, the harder it will be for people to remain focused, so it’s wise to underestimate how much your group can cover in the allotted time.
A well-written meeting agenda organizes and outlines the meeting’s required points of conversation. It highlights important information and helps attendees determine their roles and responsibilities within the meeting. For a planning meeting, the agenda is especially important as it helps to ensure that all planning aspects are addressed within the designated time. Define the planning meeting’s logistics. Provide information on the meeting’s time and location. Include special instructions, such as participation codes for conference calls and login information for online meetings.
It is important to remember that having an agenda is significant to the productivity of your event. An effective agenda should be clear, concise and readable. Share the agenda with participants when necessary, so it must be easy to follow. This agenda should promote effective communication and show the appropriate actions and steps to take to keep people on track and motivated to complete the tasks the meeting sets forth.
The Second Rule: Inviting the Right People
Now that you have determined that you need to hold a meeting, make sure to invite the correct people. You don’t want unnecessary individuals to put the time and effort into coming to something they either don’t belong at, or don’t need to be at.
In some corporate cultures, employees don’t need to participate — they only listen and head back to their workspaces. At other companies, employees participate freely. In today’s collaborative workplaces, interacting and sharing ideas is not only welcome,
it’sfrequently the purpose of the entire meeting. When you’re setting out your expectations, it’s also a good time to send out any required reading or material you’ll want those attending to look over. That way they’re prepared when they get to the meeting and there are no surprises.
Consider who can help you accomplish your goal and who will be affected by the meeting’s outcome. Identify key decision makers, people who are knowledgeable about (or have a stake in) the topic at hand, those who need to be informed in order to do their jobs, and anyone who will be required to implement decisions made. What about
size? Keep problem solvingmeetings small (around 8 people). Include more people for brainstorming (as many as 18). If you’re providing updates or rallying the troops, be as inclusive as you want to be. But remember: time is money. Be conscious of the ripple effects your meeting can have on people’s time across the organization, and only invite those who absolutely have to be there.
The Third Rule: Time and Space
While it may seem simple, planning when and where your meeting will take place is of enormous importance. And, part of planning when it will be will also consist of who is coming. You will need to make sure that everyone will be available to come, especially if their jobs require the information being present at your meeting.
And, making sure you have a venue, whether it’s the office conference room or a larger gathering hall, is crucial. Make sure you have enough space for everyone.
As you look for a great location take into consideration the tone of the meeting. A small informal and intimate meeting would work great in a small room with the chairs set into a circle. A formal meeting may require a conference room. Will there be break-out sessions? You will need to prepare for multiple rooms. If this is a full or multi-day event, do you need to provide a room for a meal or activity? Larger meetings require more space, and it will often take longer to find an appropriate space so plan ahead. Be sure to find a space for your event before you publicize the date. Many people begin planning around a specific date only to find that the selected venue is not available, it may be necessary to make adjustments to the venue or the date, stay open to possibilities.
The Fourth Rule: Preparation
From technology to social media and even how you communicate your invitations to the meeting, you must make sure that everything is adequately prepared. You will need to identify and arrange everything needed for a productive meeting; this includes testing out all technology used during the meeting. Prearrange for all required items for the event, and make sure to pay attention to even the smallest details.
Preparation, a take-charge attitude
andgood oral communication skills are keys to effectively chairing a meeting. It is your responsibility as a chairperson to make sure the meeting fulfills its primary objectives within its preset time parameter. You also need to keep participants engaged and make sure everyone has a voice. Both what you say and how you say it can make the difference between an effective, productive meeting and one that “fails.”
In theory, everyone understands that preparation can make or break an important meeting. The more work you do before you walk into the room, the more productive and efficient you’ll be. But who has the time to properly prepare? Our checklist makes meeting prep quick and easy—be sure to print it out or save it for later. Each step is described in more detail below. Using the checklist and the principles behind it will ensure that you’ve covered all your bases—and that you won’t be wasting anyone’s time (including your own).
Identification for Attendees
Name tags also provide confidence to those at a conference or meeting. Even if everyone doesn’t know each other, their names are visible and so introductions feel less intimidating. People can confidently call each another by their names.
The bottom line is that name tags don’t have to be expensive or fancy to be powerful. When used appropriately, name tags help to build community. The power within name tags is real. So, put one on today! We have an almost endless variety to meet any need.
The Fifth Rule: Participation
This rule is simple: make sure that everyone in attendance at your meeting knows why they are there. By giving everyone an assignment or asking them to help with a presentation, they will feel of value to the common cause.
From food to printing the agenda, everyone should be able to participate in the meeting. This includes assigning personnel to perform research, develop strategies, disseminate information and implement policies, establishing time frames and benchmark goals, and defining qualitative and quantitative measurement tools to gauge effectiveness. But, make sure to always follow up on actionable items in advance of their due dates.
The Sixth Rule: Stay on Task
From starting on time to your organization, the only way your meeting will flow without fail lies in your preparation. Every meeting should start with a “call to order” to get attention. Sometimes this can be a random prize drawing or a roll call.
Timing is essential, both from a logistic and productivity standpoint. It can be frustrating when things don’t get going because attendees are trickling into the room at their own pace. Make sure to take charge of the meeting. Start promptly and with the “call to order.”
Then, stay on task. Center all conversations around the goals and objectives of your event. Stick to your agenda; that’s why you made it in the first place. And, if things start to deviate course, get back as quickly and directly as you can. Make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard, but also make sure to reign the conversation in when necessary.
The Seventh Rule: Follow Up
Once your meeting has concluded, take the time to check to see if you need any follow up. Whether it is with one person or the entire attendance roster, follow up in just as important as the meeting itself. You need to measure the result and effectiveness of your meeting.
A meeting is only as good as the action it results in. Every meeting with an agenda should also have
a desiredoutcome. As the organizer of the meetingyou should continue to drive people towards that desired outcome and act likea “ringmaster” of the different opinions and cases presented at the table. Once consensus has been achieved this should be confirmed in an email so that everyone has written confirmation. You should also track your progress against these stated objectives until the task is complete.
And, don’t forget to clean up! From taking down any decorations to cleaning up leftover food, make sure you leave the venue as you found it. This keeps your venue options open for your next meeting (you don’t want to blacklist your company from anywhere).