Often, meetings are seen as a necessary evil around the office. A poorly organized meeting is frequently a waste of time and resources, one which results in very little actually being decided or done. This is why meeting planning is so important. Before you call your next meeting, ask yourself these questions to ensure the event goes off as smoothly as possible and all the attendees understand why they had to be there.
One of the first things to consider when planning a successful meeting is how often your group should come together. Decide whether you want to meet weekly, monthly or at some other interval, but try to keep meeting times regular and don't call emergency meetings unless it's absolutely necessary.
Another meeting planning question to consider is how much information should be shared each time you meet. Often, meetings are not the ideal place to discuss a lot of minor details since some things can get lost if those attending get behind on their notes. Use meetings to discuss bigger issues and hash out problems. Smaller details can always be included in a follow-up email.
The next step of successful meeting planning should be deciding who, precisely, needs to be invited. Not every meeting requires every team member to be present, but others concern all the people working in the office and should be attended by as many of them as possible. As a general rule, invite only the people who need to be there for the bulk of the meeting. If only a small part of what is being discussed applies to one of the team members, catch them up later or only invite them in for the relevant portion of the meeting rather than forcing them to sit through the whole thing.
Once you have your guest list prepared, decide who will speak during the meeting. When creating a meeting planning schedule, make time for the people who know the most about each particular topic. Ask them how long they want to speak, so you can get an estimate of how long the meeting will run.
During the meeting planning stage, remember to answer the important question of why you are calling a meeting in the first place. Have specific goals and subjects you want to address to keep the meeting from wandering too far off topic and going too far over the scheduled time.
The last important step of meeting planning is to find a suitable space to meet. Make sure the room you are meeting in is large enough to fit all attendees comfortably. If you need any special equipment, such as a projector, make sure it is present and working correctly ahead of time.
With proper planning, meetings don't have to be something your team endures while waiting to get back to productive work. A little meeting planning can go a long way towards ensuring your next team meeting is productive, informative and not longer than it has to be.
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