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meeting preparation

Did you know that around 55 million meetings are held each week in the United States alone? That averages out to around 11 million meetings per day!

With so many meetings happening on a daily basis, it’s important to make sure that they are productive and efficient. After all, nobody wants to waste their time and effort sitting in a conference room meeting that could have easily been an email.

One of the best ways to ensure that your meeting is productive is to create a meeting preparation checklist or agenda filled with meeting notes and prepare for the meeting ahead of time. By having the right preparation of meeting materials, you can avoid any potential hiccups and make sure that everyone involved knows what the meeting is about.

Not sure where to start? Check out our step-by-step meeting preparation guide below.

The Importance of Meeting Preparation

A well-run meeting is an essential part of any business, large or small. However, many businesses struggle with meeting preparation, leading to ineffective meetings that waste time and money.

A recent study found that US businesses lose $37 billion a year to unproductive meetings. This is a staggering number, and it highlights the importance of meeting preparation.

meeting preparation success

Factors Contributing to a Meeting’s Failure or Success

Many factors contribute to a meeting’s success or failure, but one of the most important is preparation. A well-prepared meeting has clearly defined objectives and participants, and all necessary materials are ready to go. This allows for productive and efficient meetings where everyone is on the same page.

In contrast, a poorly set up meeting can be chaotic, unproductive, and a waste of effort. Participants may not know what they are supposed to do or what the meeting’s goals are. This can lead to confusion and frustration, and, ultimately a waste of time.

To avoid this, it is essential to spend some time on meeting preparation. This includes creating an agenda, sending out a calendar invite, and gathering all relevant materials. By taking the time to prepare, you can ensure that your meeting is successful and productive.

How to Prepare for a Meeting in 9 Steps

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of meeting prep, let’s take a look at how to prepare for a meeting in 9 steps.

1. Set Meeting Purpose and Goals

When preparing for a meeting, the first step is to set its purpose and goals. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the meeting will be productive. The purpose of a meeting is what it is meant to achieve, while goals are specific objectives that need to be met in order to meet that purpose.

Factors to Consider When Setting Meeting Purpose and Goals:

Some factors to keep in mind when setting the purpose and goals of a meeting include:

  • The topic or purpose of the meeting
  • Who is attending the meeting?
  • How long each agenda item is timed
  • What do they need to know or do as a result of the meeting?
  • What will be the discussion points of the meeting?
  • What are the desired outcomes of the meeting?
  • When does the meeting need to take place?

With these factors in mind, it’s possible to set a meeting purpose and goals that will ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Create and Share a Meeting Template

When creating a meeting, it’s important to have a template to help guide the discussion and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This also helps to keep meetings on track and prevents them from becoming bogged down in the discussion points.

Things to Keep In Mind When Creating a Meeting Template

When creating a meeting template, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The objectives of the meeting
  • The talking points that need to be discussed
  • Any follow up tasks that need to be completed after the meeting

Once you have all of this information, you can create a meeting template and share it with all of the other attendees. This will help to ensure that everyone is ready for the meeting and knows what is expected of them.

You can also break the discussion points into bullet points so that attendees can easily understand whatever’s written in the agenda and meeting materials.

3. Determine Who Should Attend the Meeting

When considering who should attend a meeting, the organizer should think about the meeting’s objectives and desirable outcomes. The organizer should also take into account the skills and knowledge of the participants.

The meeting’s clear objectives will help determine which attendees are necessary. For example, if the goal is to come to a consensus on key decisions, then all stakeholders involved in the decision making need to be present. If the objective is to get input from team members, then those team members should attend.

The desired outcomes will also help determine which team members are necessary. For example, if the goal is to finalize a document, then key people who need to review and approve the document would need to be in attendance. If the goal is to brainstorm ideas, then people with creative mindsets would be a good addition to the meeting.

4. Share Supporting Materials in Advance

Sharing materials like meeting agendas before the meeting takes place is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the meeting will be productive. It also allows a person to prepare for the meeting and to have any questions they might have answered in advance.

The supporting materials may include anything from the meeting agenda and materials to previous meeting notes and minutes. By sharing these materials ahead of time, attendees can come to the meeting prepared and ready to contribute.

Factors to Consider When Sharing Support Materials

There are a few things to keep in mind when sharing supporting materials:

  • Make sure that all of the relevant materials are included
  • The agenda should be organized and easy to understand
  • Any attachments should be formatted properly
  • The material should be relevant to the discussion at hand

When sending out supporting materials, it’s important to give team members enough time to review them and decide what to propose. This will ensure that they are prepared for the meeting and that the meeting will be productive.

5. Prepare to Lead or Facilitate the Meeting

When preparing to lead or facilitate an important meeting, it’s important to have a clear idea of the meeting’s talking points, objectives, and desired outcomes. The organizer should also be familiar with the meeting template and the materials that were shared in advance.

The organizer should be ready to keep the meeting on track and ensure that everyone is participating. They should also be willing to answer any questions ahead that might come up during the meeting.

What Should Organizers Do to Facilitate a Productive Meeting?

In order to facilitate a productive meeting, the organizer should:

  • Introduce the meeting and its objectives
  • Explain the meeting template or agenda
  • Keep track of time and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak
  • Help to resolve any conflicts that might arise
  • Summarize the conversation and identify any next steps

6. Consider Using Meeting Management Tools

There are a variety of different meeting management tools and software that can help with the organization and execution of meetings. Some of these tools can be used to create an agenda, send a calendar invite, track meeting RSVPs, and even take meeting minutes.

Using meeting management tools can help ensure that all meeting attendees are aware of the meeting objectives, that the meeting runs efficiently, and that follow-up tasks are assigned after the meeting has concluded.

On our own behalf, we recommend checking yowork.io. It contains everything you need to facilitate meetings, but adds even more features to the every day collaboration within your organization. It’s free for single users, so why wait to test it. 😉

meeting management yowork

When choosing a meeting management tool, it is important to consider the needs of the meeting and the attendees. Some tools are better suited for certain types of meetings than others.

For example, nTask is a great tool for organizing and managing project meetings, while Doodle is better suited for scheduling one-on-one meetings or small group meetings. On the other hand, Zoom is a great video conference and webinar tool, while Slide Deck is better suited for team collaboration.

7. Define Roles of Meeting Leader and Participants

A successful meeting requires a good agenda, well-prepared materials, and an effective leader who assigns tasks and ensures that the meeting proceeds on schedule. But it’s not just the leader who has a crucial role to play; all meeting participants must be aware of their responsibilities in order for the meeting to run smoothly.

When everyone knows their role, meetings can be much more productive and efficient. Furthermore, assigning roles via majority vote can help to ensure that all voices are heard and that everyone feels like they have a chance to contribute.

Tips for Defining Roles of Meeting Leader and Participants

Here are some tips for defining the roles of the meeting leader and participants:

  • The meeting leader should be responsible for creating the agenda, ensuring that the meeting stays on track, and summarizing the main talking points.
  • Meeting participants should be responsible for contributing to the discussion, following along with the agenda items, and keeping distractions to a minimum.
  • All meeting attendees should be aware of their responsibilities before the meeting begins.
  • The leader and participants should agree on the roles and responsibilities before the meeting begins.
  • The leader may choose to assign specific roles to participants, or team members may volunteer for specific roles.

With these tips in mind, you can ensure that everyone knows their role and is prepared to contribute to the meeting. By doing so, you can set the stage for a successful and productive meeting.

meeting preparation timing

8. Begin and End on Time

It is important to begin and end a meeting on time. This helps ensure that the meeting runs efficiently and that everyone has the opportunity to participate. If the meeting starts late, it can cut into the time that is available for discussion. Likewise, if the meeting runs over, it can inconvenience those who have other commitments.

To begin a meeting on time, it is important to start promptly and not allow people to arrive late. This can be accomplished by having an agenda and distributing it to attendees in advance. This will give them a sense of what will be discussed and will help them arrive on time. If someone is running late, they can catch up on the discussions by reading the meeting agenda.

To end a meeting on time, it is important to keep track of the time. This can be done by setting a timer or using a stopwatch. It is also important to have an agenda item and to stick to it. This will help ensure that all topics are covered in the allotted time. If there is extra time, it can be used for brainstorming.

9. Follow Up with Action Items After the Meeting

After a meeting is over, it is important to follow up with action items. This ensures that all tasks are completed and that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. It also helps to keep track of progress and ensure that goals are met.

There are several ways to follow up with action items. One way is to create a list of action items in an agenda and distribute it to attendees. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the key takeaways and what needs to be done. It also allows for easy follow-up if someone does not complete their task.

Another way is to create a meeting minutes document. This document should include a list of all action items and the assigned responsible party. This is a good way to keep track of progress and ensure that all tasks are completed.

Wrapping Up

Meeting preparation is key for effective meetings. By following a meeting preparation checklist and keeping an agenda, you can ensure that you have all of the materials and information you need to have better meetings. So, what are you waiting for? Use these tips and start preparing for your next meeting today!

all images Pixabay

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