How to Keep a Meeting on Track

How to Keep a Meeting on Track

It takes meticulous planning to ensure meetings run smoothly and yield excellent results. Especially ones that involve large groups of people. Use this checklist for key meeting planning tips to help keep every meeting on track and to help make each encounter successful.

Set the agenda

This is usually the easy part for most types of meetings. The agenda for the meeting leads up to the goal you want to achieve. For instance, if the aim is to cut operating costs, the agenda should include various points of discussion to help save money. Consult the key players at this stage of planning so that the agenda is as specific as possible.

Who will attend?

Those who meet these criteria have important insights that can influence the outcome of a meeting. Attendees should be management and co workers who can influence the outcome of the meeting. This could include::

  • Decision makers
  • Implementers
  • Subject experts
  • Affected departments

Invite those who need to know about the topics under discussion and who can contribute ideas, suggestions and advice at the meeting. They will usually get contributions from their colleagues or juniors as they prepare for the meeting.

Logistics

This relies on the budget allocation for and priorities of the meeting. If the company holds the event in a hotel or meeting facility, the service provider typically takes care of most logistical needs after getting information about the meeting.

If holding the meeting in company premises, find a venue for the meeting and ensure it has all the conference room furniture and equipment you need.

Meeting tips to keep in mind when working on logistics:

  • Choose seating arrangements that suit the aim of the meeting, whether formal or informal
  • Check breakroom supplies to ensure they suffice
  • Organize for a back-up source of power if necessary
  • Cater for groups such as vegetarians and people with dietary restrictions
  • Ensure ventilation and air conditioning is in good condition
  • Test equipment such as interactive whiteboards to ensure they work well
  • Buy or order supplies several days before the meeting to prevent delays
  • Print out or compile the relevant resources that attendees will need

Include refreshments, especially if the meeting will run for hours.  Since you have the number of those who must attend, plan how to order snacks and food.

Assigning tasks and duties

Make everyone feel they are an integral part of the meeting by assigning roles. These can range from simple tasks such as time management to more demanding tasks like providing expert information. Other useful roles to delegate can include facilitators who lead the discussions and scribes to take notes.

Think about how the meeting will decide on outcomes. For instance, will attendees vote on the matter and how? Alternatively, how else will the meeting reach a decision?

Sending out invitations

When planning the date of the event, consult those who need to attend to get a suitable date. Then it’s time to send invitations that include information such as:

  • Agenda
  • Venue
  • Time, date, and duration
  • How attendees can prepare
  • Resources to help prepare
  • The invitee’s role
  • What to bring

Setting the tone

Besides the practical function invitations play, they have another important role. Tthey can help set the tone of the meeting, which in turn assists in ensuring the meeting achieves its objectives. They also provide an opportunity for the organizers to communicate their expectations.

Before sending invitations, it may be a good idea to call each person first and invite them verbally. This is an opportunity to get everyone interested in the meeting. Then send emails and calendars with relevant information. Include a RSVP button,  and plan to send polite reminders about the occasion.

The day of the meeting

On the day of the meeting, these tips can help achieve objectives:

  • Start on time
  • Acknowledge attendees
  • Keep the meeting focused
  • Deliberate well before deciding
  • Thank everyone for their contributions

Send a report about the meeting to attendees after the event, and detail the way forward according to what was decided.

No matter how well you plan for meetings, chances are that someone might raise a legitimate issue that calls for a separate forum. Ask such people to hold their concern for another time, but make notes about the issues. As soon as possible after the meeting, create a different forum to address the concerns. This way, your current meeting remains on track.