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Meetings are part of daily business activities. Ever since we embraced “virtual meetings” via online video platforms, we have participated in more meetings, than we did before
We have all experienced meetings with no purpose, with no advance notice or details. It ends up being a wasted effort resulting in an unproductive activity. It does not matter if it is a meeting with the clients, shareholders, or an internal meeting with your team. To ensure a successful meeting, you need to prepare in advance.
Remember what you and your team gain from a meeting depends on what you put into the meeting in preparation.
But how do you prepare for a meeting?
Well, the answer could vary slightly based on the type of meeting. Here are some key things you should be doing before each meeting.
· Send Invites in advance – Have you ever gotten that dreadful ping, “let’s have a quick meeting. How about now?” Avoid setting up a meeting at the very last minute. No one likes to get a same-day meeting invite. For a formal meeting, the invites should be sent out at least 5 days ahead of time. Keep in mind that every meeting is taking up everyone’s valuable time.
· Set up an Agenda – The agenda provides a compass for the discussion, so the meeting can return to the right path if the conversation wanders off course. Clearly outline if you require other participants to prepare beforehand for the meeting. It is necessary to have a clear goal in mind before entering a meeting. It helps prevent people from spending too much time discussing issues that have little or no direct impact on the matter discussed. This eventually fails to produce quality decisions required to drive outcomes.
· Circulate supporting information before the meeting starts – If there are materials that need to be reviewed in advance, be sure to provide them at least 5 days prior so that attendees can have sufficient time to look into them. Otherwise, the meeting will become a “reading session.” This is not a productive use of anyone’s time.
· The number of attendees – It may be easy to invite a group of people to a meeting, so you do not have to repeat your communications separately afterwards. Or maybe you tend to keep things small and simple by inviting just a small group of people whose opinions you value. But to conduct a useful meeting, it is crucial to invite the right people. Who are the right people? They are 1) key decision-makers for the subjects discussed, 2) the one with information and knowledge about the subject, 3) people who have a commitment to the subject, and 4) people who need to know about the information to perform their tasks. Meetings are held so that people to contribute their expertise on a particular matter. If you notice someone who habitually attends meetings but never participates, it is best to speak to them before the meeting.
· Set Meeting Expectations – You have to understand what you want to achieve from a meeting. Simply put, the objectives of a meeting should be defined and communicated to every attendee beforehand. People like to know in advance why they are attending. Perhaps, the most important thing you can do before the meeting is to set the expectation of, “What is the goal of the meeting?” Is it an update session of a current project, a decision is needed, or an action item is required? It sets the tone of a meeting with a purpose. Therefore, always be descriptive with your meeting topic, such as “Briefing on the status of Project ABC”, and it will lead to a more purposeful discussion.
· Action items – We have all experienced it before. A meeting scenario in which everyone is full of enthusiasm, ideas flow freely, and people commit to making things happen. When the session ends, everyone goes their separate ways. Meeting tasks and action items are what drive an organisation forward. Keep track of the discussed tasks
and progress through the meeting. At the end of the meeting, provide a summary and highlight tasks that are incomplete. Also, determine which are the priority
tasks through status labels such as Complete, Incomplete and Urgent.
· End on Time – If you have called a meeting, you have to control the outcomes and also ensure that it ends on time. Else you are wasting
everybody’s time and very soon only a few people will accept your meeting
Preparation Is Key to Perfection
Good planning makes all the difference. A well-prepared meeting always leaves some space for flexibility, nice communication flow and engaging everyone. It also creates an atmosphere that each meeting needs, so attendees can stay informed, share relevant information, and contribute to the conversation. Additionally, it helps you prepare yourself and the entire group of people for the discussion.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you plan a fruitful meeting. You will be amazed by the amount of work you get done.
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