In a previous post I reviewed a book titled, Running Meetings. In this post I have written a quick summary of one of the ideas I got from the book which is about How to prepare for a meeting.
How to prepare for a meeting
Having a successful meeting requires preparation and preparation starts with being clear about the purpose of a meeting. You first need to identify which of the following your meeting aims to do:
- Brainstorm for ideas
- Inform people about something
- Make a decision
- Fix a problem
- A combination of two or more of the above.
Once you know what purpose your meeting is to achieve, you can go ahead and write the meeting’s objectives. The outcome here is to have a clear statement of purpose and objectives which will help people understand why the meeting is happening.
Also the meeting’s objectives will help to identify those who should be invited to attend the meeting. As a rule of thumb, invite people who:
- Are key decision makers for issues to be discussed at the meeting.
- Have information and knowledge about topics on the agenda.
- Are stakeholders in the issues to be discussed.
- Need to get information from the meeting to do their jobs.
- Are going to act on decisions made at the meeting.
Once you have identified who to invite using the criteria above, then personally invite them. Your meeting invitation should include an agenda which will outline:
- The meeting’s purpose and objectives.
- Who the participants are.
- Date, time, duration and venue.
- Who is calling the meeting.
- Role and responsibilities of participants in the meeting.
- Agenda items and who is responsible for each item.
- Any prior preparation required.
- Instructions about pre-existing information needed.
Before the meeting make sure you assign responsibilities to participants where possible. Assigning responsibilities ensures people cover all the important roles and responsibilities during the meeting and it also engages people in the meeting. Responsibilities assigned to people should reflected in the agenda. Although this has already been mentioned, be sure to circulate any pre-meeting information. This will include the agenda, any background reading and material.
A very important part of preparing for a meeting is to ensure you get the right venue with the appropriate size for the number of participants and equipment for any information you will be presenting (don’t forget to test equipment to ensure it works properly). The meeting room must also be set out in the appropriate format to match the purpose of the meeting.
Also make sure you give people enough notice about the meeting, so they have adequate time to prepare.