Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered what was happening or where the conversation was going? Maybe the point of everything seemed lost. It’s frustrating when no one in the meeting knows what’s going on.
You’ve probably attended several meetings like this, and maybe now you’re in a position of scheduling meetings yourself. I’ll let you in on a secret: meetings don’t have to feel like an aimless march. Great meetings are possible. They just require preparation.
Here are three ways to set yourself up for a great meeting:
- Designate a meeting leader and facilitator. While a meeting leader is a strategic role, the facilitator handles meeting processes. Leaders determine a meeting’s purpose and own the results, as well as drive the meeting and discussion forward. Facilitators, on the other hand, are responsible for preparing the agenda with the leader’s input, distributing the agenda, keeping time, taking and distributing notes, and following up on any action items. Sometimes in smaller meetings, the leader and facilitator are the same person. But it’s often a good idea to keep them separate. Both roles are vital for successful and efficient meetings.
- Construct a carefully planned agenda. An agenda creates clarity for the meeting leader and participants. First, it should include a meeting title, the date and time, and a participant list. Next, specify the meeting’s primary purpose in a concise statement, along with two or three desired outcomes. Finally, outline a program for the meeting. This will track the flow of discussion items and the allocated time for each topic, including any notes or resources that may be relevant. By taking a few minutes to plan the agenda, you’ll eliminate the dangers of having an unnecessary meeting or, worse, one where nobody knows what they’re doing.
- Pick the right setting. Whether it’s an in-person or virtual meeting, it’s important that the environment contributes to and doesn’t distract from the creative vision. From a clean space and natural light, to comfortable chairs and healthy snacks, keeping participants engaged is key to a productive meeting. If you’re virtual, find a spot with minimal background noise, a tidy background, and balanced light. This helps you and fellow participants maintain focus and cultivates purposeful collaboration, even when you’re not in the same room.
Meeting preparation is time-consuming, but there’s too much riding on everyone’s time and resources to just wing it. Putting in the effort on the front-end will ensure results during execution. Because when you’re prepared, not only do you have a clear goal and a way to measure your progress toward that goal, but you’ll also see huge returns in team morale and productivity. How can you start planning ahead for great meetings?