In order to plan and run a successful meeting it is important to put some time into preparation of your meeting. Time is a very valuable asset to people and because of that you want to make sure that you are using your time and your participant’s time wisely.
Begin with writing out a list of all of the topics that you would like to discuss during the meeting time. Then write a rough draft or think about what you want to say and how long you think it will take you to get your message across. With this information you can determine how long you want to schedule your meeting for. Make sure you account for time that will be used by your participant’s answers and comments as well. Once you have figured out what you are going to discuss and how much time it will take, reserve a location for the meeting and send out the meeting invitation using programs such as Microsoft Outlook or a paper invitation. Be sure to include the length of the meeting, location, materials needed and key topics that are going to be discussed. Next, create your presentation using the timing guidelines you created. This should be done at least a week in advance from the meeting time.
Throughout the week prior to the meeting you should be practicing and revising your presentation. A few days before the meeting takes place type up an agenda and email it to all of the participants so they know what to look forward to in the meeting. Ask three people to volunteer to be the note taker, timekeeper and relevancy checker. Here’s a review of what their tasks are:
- Note taker: Writes down all of the information discussed in the meeting and how long it took for each topic. They then type up the notes so they can be given to anyone who was not able to make it to the meeting. These notes are also used to keep track of the information shared in each meeting.
- Timekeeper: They make sure the meeting follows the allotted time for each topic and make sure the meeting does not run over the specific time for the meeting to end.
- Relevancy checker: This is optional but the relevancy checker makes sure the conversation stays on topic and the meeting doesn’t get out of control. The relevancy checker will gently knock on the table to signal the facilitator when the meeting gets off topic. The facilitator is the one that will get the meeting back on track and tell the participants that their question or topic will be addressed off-line in another meeting or by email. The relevancy checker will write down topics that were not able to be addressed in the meeting so that they can be addressed later in email or another meeting. If you have a hard time staying on topic with your group I recommend having a relevancy checker.
On the day of the meeting bring along your presentation materials and extra copies of the agenda in case someone did not receive one or print it out. Get to the meeting location 15 minutes early so you can set up and greet the participants as they arrive. At the top of your presentation welcome everyone and quickly go over the agenda. Introduce the note taker, timekeeper and relevancy checker. Then take it away with your presentation. After your meeting is over, collect the notes from the note taker and relevancy checker. Make sure all meeting participants get a copy of the notes, if necessary forward them to your boss and be sure to address all questions to be answered off-line within 2 business days.
I know that this all seems like a long process but I guarantee that you will have a more successful meeting if you take the time to prepare!