Meetings have gotten a bad rap lately.
The plethora of unproductive, time-wasting meetings occurring in many organizations and industries have caused employees all over the map to view meetings in a negative light.
But the truth is, not all meetings are bad. In many instances, meetings are the best way to get things done. Especially when working on a project with a team, effective meetings can be the difference between failure and success.
Hoping to get your teammates or colleagues back on board with meetings? Make sure the next meeting you host is highly productive.
How To Plan An Effective Meeting
Want to make sure the next meeting you host is efficient and productive for everyone involved? Here are 7 tips you can use to plan and prepare for a highly effective meeting.
1. Choose an Appropriate Venue
Consider what you’ll be discussing during the meeting and who will be attending, then select a location and venue accordingly.
For a small meeting amongst teammates within a company, reserving a conference room is likely your best bet. Meeting with a client? It may be worth considering an off-site meeting space in a location that’s convenient for both parties. Doing a more formal presentation? You’ll need to find a space that has all the necessary amenities plus sufficient and comfortable seating for everyone invited.
Be sure to make your choice and reserve the necessary space well ahead of time. Securing an appropriate venue is the first step towards planning an effective meeting, and is one of the most important things you can do to set the stage for success.
2. Set Goals For What Will Be Accomplished
Unless you’ve established metrics for gauging success, you’ll have a hard time knowing if your meeting was actually effective. That being said, make sure you set reasonable, achievable goals for the meeting as you’re working through the planning process.
Set up measurable goals that are specific so you can know for sure whether you’ve met them or not at the conclusion of the meeting. It’s also a good idea to run the goals you’ve established by other key players in the meeting to make sure that nothing needs to be added or adjusted ahead of time. This can help to achieve buy-in and ensure that everyone involved is able to get what they need out of the meeting.
3. Establish an Agenda
Having a meeting agenda is one of the most impactful things you can do to ensure that your meeting runs smoothly. Create your agenda based on the goals you want to accomplish, then use it to guide the meeting and keep things on track.
It’s a good idea to collaborate with other key players to determine what should be included on the meeting agenda, and to share the agenda with meeting participants ahead of time so everyone has the opportunity to sufficiently prepare. Flexibility is a good idea when constructing your agenda, but keep time constraints in mind. Don’t try to cram more into the meeting than you can feasibly accomplish.
4. Reach Out To Attendees Ahead of Time (and Require RSVPs)
Last minute meetings do come up, but whenever possible send out meeting invitations well ahead of time. People have very busy schedules and it can be difficult to find a common time to meet, so thinking ahead when it comes to booking a meeting date is key if you want to be sure that all key players are able to attend.
When you send out meeting invitations, it’s often a good idea to require RSVPs from those invited. Once people have formally committed to attending a meeting, they are less likely to back out.
5. Send Out Reminders
Busy schedules and full calendars mean that sometimes things are overlooked. As the meeting coordinator, it falls on you to help people remember your upcoming meeting. After all, attendance is required if your meeting is to be successful!
Even if you’ve sent out invitations and required RSVPs, send out meeting reminders to make sure that the meeting is still on attendees’ radar as the date approaches. Don’t badger people, but do not feel hesitant to send a friendly reminder. Doing so can be the difference between having a well-attended, successful meeting and a flop.
6. Test All Technology Ahead of Time
One of the things that irritates people most about meetings is technical difficulties. In this day and age, technology like videoconferencing, instant messaging, screen-sharing and more exists to make meetings more productive and feasible even when attendees are in different locations. But these technologies can also be the downfall of meetings when they don’t work as they’re expected to.
If you want to have a successful meeting, plan to test out all involved technology ahead of time. This is especially important if you are using a system you are not familiar with, or if you are trying out a new technology or software for the first time.
Meeting attendees don’t typically have a lot of patience for technical difficulties, and you’ll lose their interest if you spend too much time troubleshooting. Get the technical problems out of the way ahead of time so your meeting can go off without a hitch.
7. Get There Early to Set Up
As the meeting organizer, you’re preparation duties lead right up to the last minute. Plan to arrive at the meeting early so you can get things set up and ready to go. That way, as soon as all attendees arrive you can get started.
Meetings have a reputation for being ‘time wasters’ and if you want your meeting to be a success you’ll want to be sure that every minute is used productively. Launch the meeting on time, stick to the established and agreed upon agenda, and be sure to have all the materials on hand to keep the meeting moving smoothly.
Make Your Next Meeting as Productive as Possible
People have become skeptical about the productivity of meetings – and in many cases it’s for good reason. There are so many frustrations that can come along with meetings that are not well run or well planned for.
Your goal when it comes to planning a highly effective meeting is to avoid the typical frustrations and issues that can bog down productivity. Sticking to these 7 tips can help you do so and start to shift the meeting culture within your organization.
Looking for a great place to host a meeting in the Boston MA area? Check out The Lakeside Park. Our temporary office rentals are ideal for organizations looking for meeting spaces, plus we have a hotel on site which makes it extra convenient for those coming from out of town.
We’re also just minutes from downtown Boston and central to dozens of local conveniences, including restaurants and eateries, shopping, entertainment and more. Get to know Wakefield and learn more about the available spaces at The Lakeside Park here.