Your planning and preparation activity is vital to the success of your meeting. In the planning and preparing phase you will be defining the purpose of your meeting, the people who should attend, and the place of the meeting. Planning and preparing for your meeting helps to reduce the stress that may result from managing a meeting.
Determining the Meeting Participants
Determining your meeting participants is an important planning step. Who attends your meeting could help or hinder the meeting dynamics. Think about the purpose of the meeting to help determine who you should invite. For example, if you are meeting to resolve a problem, invite only those who are capable of providing solutions to the problem. Having people who cannot contribute to the meeting will exclude them and affect the meeting environment. The following are some common reasons to call a meeting:
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Conflict resolution
- Project initiation
Once you determine your meeting purpose, you can list all the names of the participants you wish to attend. Once this list is created, then determine what each participant will contribute to the meeting. If a participant is deemed a non-contributor, they should be removed from the list. When all non-contributors are removed, you should have a good list of participants for your meeting.
Planning the Time and Place of the Meeting
There are several considerations you must address when planning the time and place of your meeting. For instance, the time of day is important if your meeting is meant to be a brainstorming session or problem-solving meeting. Setting these types of meetings right after lunch or late in the day could be a frustrating experience. Choosing the correct venue for your meeting is essential to its success. Try to schedule your meeting in a well-lit spacious room. If the meeting topic is of a sensitive nature, then getting a room with privacy will make participants more comfortable to discuss the issue.
Creating the Meeting Agenda
- Seek topics from your participants. Send an email to the list of participants you created, asking for agenda topics. Give a brief explanation of the purpose of the meeting and an idea of what you are looking for in terms of topics.
- Organize the topics into a list. Once you receive the topics, organize them into a list along with the time and the name of the presenter. This will give you the ability to scan through the list, narrowing it down to the topics you will select for the agenda.
- Assess which topics are relevant to the meeting purpose. Scratch out those topics you do not intend to use.
- Pick the number of relevant topics that will fit your meeting time. Review the time of the remaining topics. Select the enough topics to fill the time of your meeting minus ten minutes. Give yourself ten minutes for meeting overrun. If you go over, you will end on time. If you do not, then you get to adjourn your meeting early, making everyone happy.
Gathering the Materials for the Meeting
You need to determine which materials you need for the meeting and acquire them in advance.
- Stationary: this is all the paper you will need at the meeting. It includes notepads, sticky notes, index cards, envelopes, tape, paper clips, folders, and flip chart.
- Handouts: many times you or your presenters will need to distribute handouts. There could be a worksheet or an outline from an electronic presentation. Consult with your presenters and acquire any handouts they may use.
- Organizer: Using an organizer like a portable accordion file is an easy way to file your handouts and other stationary materials in one container. The filing system will allow you to file the documents in an orderly fashion, making distribution of the materials more professional.
- Writing tools: this includes pens, markers, highlighters, and dry erase markers you may need for your meeting.
- Special requests: from time to time, your presenters may make a special request. An example could be a poster. Ask your presenters ahead of time for special requests.
Sending Meeting Invitations
It is essential to have a consistent and clear method of structuring your meeting invitation:
- The purpose of the meeting must be stated up front. Be specific with your purpose and attach the meeting agenda to the invitation.
- The time and place where the meeting should be determined ahead of time and included in the invitation. Provide clear instruction on the exact location.
- Create a sense of binding agreement by setting expectations, so you get the most responses as soon as possible with a level of commitment. Include a cancellation
Making Logistical Arrangements
There are several areas where you should be planning the logistics of the meeting:
- Consider the space in which you plan to hold your meeting.
- Identify who will need to travel to your meeting.
- Determine if you need to organize meals.
- Arrange audio and visual equipment for the meeting.
- Do you need signs and posters for the meeting?