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Meeting Preparation Checklist: How to Ensure a Productive and Efficient Meeting
Without proper preparation, meetings can be a waste of time and energy. Use this meeting preparation checklist for productive and efficient meetingst.
Hosting a meeting is the perfect opportunity to share ideas, make decisions, and collaborate with both colleagues and subordinates. However, when meetings are not well prepared, they can end up being a complete waste of time, resources, and energy. To avoid this, it's important to create a meeting preparation checklist that helps you ensure meetings will be productive and efficient.
From having a clear agenda and well-defined process to knowing exactly how and when to follow up, in this post, we’ll share exactly what should be on your checklist to make your next meeting the most productive one yet!
Define the Purpose and Objectives of the Meeting
The first step to drafting your meeting preparation checklist is to define your meeting’s purpose and objectives. Don’t dismiss this because defining the purpose and objectives is what ensures your meeting will stay on track. It also is the key to helping your attendees understand what is expected of them.
When you’re ready to create your meeting invitation, the purpose of the meeting should be clearly stated within it. You’ll also include your main objectives and any relevant information such as location and time. But we’ll get to that in a moment. For now, focus on figuring out why you’re meeting in the first place.
Pro Tip: Don’t meet just to have an excuse to break out the bagels and schmear!
Effective meeting preparation isn’t possible if you can’t figure out enough good reasons to meet. If you’re lost in trying to come up with why you’re meeting, it could be a case where you can get away with sending an email to share ideas and/or invite feedback instead.
What are good reasons to host a meeting?
- Communicating important information that can’t be fully explained via email
- Sharing company goals as well as intended ideas for achieving them
- To get feedback on policies, training, goals, etc…
- Awarding and rewarding team members for achievements
- Training and development
- To build a sense of community between team members and/or management.
What are bad reasons to host a meeting?
- To fill up the calendar to “look productive”: This is the worst reason to have a meeting. Team members, managers, and shareholders don’t like to have their time wasted, so never host a meeting “just to get together”
- To micromanage your team: If you can’t trust your team to get things done on their own after being given instructions, that’s a problem. You might need to either:
- Get a new team
- Train them more
- Or just let them be - if you did a good job in choosing your team members and have told them what is expected of them, let them show you they know what they are doing.
- To avoid written communication: Every meeting should have meeting minutes and be documented for the sake of transparency, accountability, training, and more. So if the goal is to not need to write something down, that’s an entirely bigger problem.
Create a Meeting Agenda
A meeting agenda is a crucial tool that helps to keep the meeting on track and ensures that all attendees are prepared. The agenda should include the following:
- Purpose and objectives of the meeting
- Topics to be discussed
- Speakers and presenters
- Time allocated for each topic
- Any necessary materials or documents
Read our post “How to Create an Effective Meeting Agenda” (link to article 1) for inspiration on what should be in your meeting agenda, and how to space out the timeline of your meeting.
Prepare Materials and Documents
Before the meeting, make sure that you have all the necessary materials and documents ready. This includes:
- Any presentations you were planning on giving during the meeting
- Reports that attendees need to be made aware of
- Handouts such as slide decks, templates, checklists, etc…
Make sure that these materials are easily accessible to all attendees and that they are clearly labeled and organized. Perhaps the easiest and most economical way this can be done is by loading these materials to a cloud storage provider and including links to them in your invite and follow up correspondence. Sending attachments can result in emails getting sent to spam as spam filters often remove large files from user inboxes. It’s best not to print all that documentation for two reasons: 1. It can cost a lot of money and 2. Most people don’t want to hang on to physical copies of documents these days because they could lose them.
Invite the Right People
It's important to invite the right people to the meeting.
- Anyone who has a direct role in the meeting's purpose and objectives, and
- Stakeholders/Shareholder/People who need to be informed of the outcome.
Make sure that all attendees are informed of the meeting's purpose and objectives, and that they know what is expected of them.
And, the more important the meeting, the earlier you will need to get it on the calendars of your attendees. If you need key personnel such as CEOs, executives and shareholders, it’s also important to give them plenty of lead time to book the meeting as these roles often have significant demands on their schedules.
Book the Time and Place
Once you know how many people need to be at the meeting, it’s time to figure out whether it will be in person or virtual. In most cases, if your team is remote or even remote-hybrid, you’ll need to host the meeting online. However, for in person events, particularly ones that are large and will require big meeting venues, you will need to find a place that can accommodate all attendees.
Pro Tip: Send a “save the date” with the “place” TBA
By sending an invite before securing the location, you can at least get the time and date onto the calendar of your intended attendees. Again, the importance of this grows with the personnel you want in attendance as well as the number of people you plan to host.
Order Refreshments (In-Person Events Only)
Whether you’re serving coffee, tea, water, or sodas, a good rule of thumb is to have one drink per guest, per hour of your meeting. And, it’s better to have more beverages on hand than you think you will need. For cocktails meetings, the number of drinks is estimated to be two per person for the first hour, and one drink per hour after the fact.
For breakfast meetings, light bites such as danishes, muffins, and bagels with cream cheese should suffice. You can work with a caterer to determine the right amount of food for your number of guests.
If lunch will be served, you might need to ask your guests about dietary restrictions and be prepared to offer vegetarian options.
Do a Test Run Before the Event
Whether you’re hosting five people or 500 people, you want to make sure everything will work for the event. For example, if you’re hosting a virtual meeting, make sure all of your equipment is ready to present (i.e. mics work, camera is on, background cleaned up/presentable, documents pulled up and ready to share, etc…)
If your event is in person, make sure to book the room early enough in advance that you can do a dry run/dress rehearsal of equipment and gear before attendees arrive. In the event your meeting is a multiple day affair, you may want to book AV technicians for the duration of your event to keep everything running smoothly.
Set Ground Rules
To ensure that the meeting runs smoothly, it's important to set some ground rules. Your ground rules may vary, and may include, but don’t have to be limited to:
- No cell phones or other electronic devices during the meeting
- All attendees must arrive/join on time
- Show up prepared and ready to participate
- Any sensitive or confidential information must be kept confidential.
You can also set the expectations upon arrival for everyone. For example, open the meeting with some “housekeeping” announcements such as:
- How long the event is planned to go
- A reminder of the agenda
- What people can do if they have a question/where to address questions/concerns.
Follow-up and Follow-through Via Email
After the meeting, it's important to follow-up with all attendees to ensure that they understand the outcome of what took place during the meeting. You’ll also want to make sure all attendees have any necessary information.
Your follow up email is the perfect place to remind your attendees where they can find supporting materials such as slide decks and presentation notes. You can include meeting minutes, surveys asking for feedback, and any other information you feel they need at this time as well.
Finally, it's also important to follow-through on any action items or decisions that were made during the meeting. For example, if your meeting ended with sales goals and team members are awaiting further instructions on how best to proceed with working towards them, this is the time to share that information.
Checklist Recap And Next Steps
To quickly recap, here’s the meeting preparation checklist you should be following:
- Define the Purpose and Objectives of the Meeting
- Create a Meeting Agenda
- Prepare Materials and Documents
- Invite the Right People
- Book the Time and Place
- Order Refreshments (In-Person Events Only)
- Do a Test Run Before the Event
- Set Ground Rules
- Follow-up and Follow-through Via Email
You can of course add to this list as you see fit. By following this comprehensive meeting preparation checklist, you can ensure that your meetings are productive and efficient. By clearly defining the purpose and objectives of the meeting, creating an agenda, preparing materials and documents, inviting the right people, setting ground rules, and following-up and following-through, you can make sure that your meetings are a success.
And, when you’re ready to schedule your next meeting, be sure to do it with Taggg! Create your free account today!
About the author
Ashley Grant is a content creator currently based in Richmond, Ky. Ashley grew up in Tampa, and attended the University of South Florida. Go Bulls! When she isn’t writing and or hosting her Bloggy Friends Show podcast, she loves trying new foods and beverages, exploring the city she lives in, and traveling as much as possible. In addition to ghostwriting for several small businesses and freelance writing under her own name for a variety of websites, she blogs about her lifestyle, working from home, and much more at FamousAshleyGrant.Website
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