Planning a meeting? Read our tips below to make sure you get the most out of your time.
Start by defining the goal of your meeting. What is it that you want to achieve and most importantly, is a meeting the best way to achieve this? This will then determine everything else about the meeting including your agenda and the delegates required.
Make sure your meeting has an agenda. If you don’t have an idea of the structure of your meeting or what is going to be discussed then you’ll find it hard to make the most out of your time. Ideally agenda items should be given a rough time estimate so you know how long you expect to stay on each topic.
Send people the agenda and any handouts or supplementary material in advance of the meeting. A couple of days beforehand is ideal. This way they have chance to review what is going to be discussed and think about the items raised. Have copies at the meeting itself as well.
Ensure your meeting has an effective chair or facilitator. This person is responsible for keeping the meeting on track and making sure that the meeting accomplishes its aims. They should also aim to create a positive and productive atmosphere where delegates feel comfortable and able to work effectively.
Start on time and insist on punctuality. If key delegates cannot make the meeting then consider postponing or rescheduling so as not to waste everyone’s time. Review the agenda and expected outcomes as a starting point to your meeting.
Use your time effectively. If you feel that you can cover everything you need to in an hour then schedule your meeting for an hour. There’s no point in making it longer than necessary. If you’re holding an all-day meeting, schedule regular breaks. People tend to switch off during long sessions and your meeting will become less effective.
Stick to the agenda as closely as possible. This doesn’t mean you can’t discuss things that are raised as you go along but try not to get easily side-tracked. Make sure you end on time. This shouldn’t be hard if you’ve effectively planned your time and stuck to the agenda.
Ensure action points arising from the meeting are well documented and everyone knows who they have been allocated to. Minutes should be distributed as soon as possible after the meeting whilst everything is still fresh in delegates’ minds.