Expert Meeting Preparation Tips and Tricks from Flowtrace's meeting analytics team on how to prepare for a meeting like a pro.
Meeting Preparation Checklist | Plan Your Meetings Effectively
Meeting preparation checklist will help you plan your meetings effectively and get the most out of every attendee to promote positive company culture.
Meetings are an important part of any organization, yet they can be frustrating, unproductive, and cause attendees to become disengaged if not planned properly. Arguably, meeting planning is the most important stage of any company meeting cycle, if this is done poorly, the meeting itself and overall culture will suffer. We have put together a meeting preparation checklist to help you plan your meetings effectively.
Whether you are running virtual meetings on Zoom, in-person, or over the phone, there are important aspects that need to be considered in order to plan a meeting successfully, these include:
- Purpose – What is the purpose of the meeting? What needs to be accomplished?
- Attendees – Who needs to be in attendance?
- Virtual, or physical - What is the best format?
- Location – Where will the meeting take place?
- Agenda – What topics need to be discussed?
- Timing – How long will the meeting last and when will it take place?
- Format – What is the best format for this meeting?
By taking the time to ensure you cover all of these aspects and fostering them as an ongoing process, you can optimize your meeting for success. Let's take a look in a bit more in-depth at these stages.
How to Identify the Purpose of Your Meeting
The first step is to determine the purpose of the meeting. What needs to be accomplished? This can be done by asking yourself and other attendees what the goal of the meeting is. Once you have determined the purpose, you can begin to put together a plan to achieve that goal.
One of the key things you can do here is to create a meeting purpose statement. This is a short statement that outlines why the meeting is being held, what type of meeting it is, and what the goal is. This gives a background on the whole meeting and can help to shape the agenda and other points of the pre-planning stages.
Some examples of meeting purpose statements are as follows:
“This is a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for our new marketing campaign.”
“The goal of this meeting is to discuss the progress of the project and to assign tasks for the next phase.”
“We will be having a strategy meeting to review our current progress and set objectives for the upcoming quarter.”
As you can see, these statements are short, but they give a clear idea of the meeting's purpose. This helps everyone to be on the same page from the start and understand what needs to be done in order to make the meeting successful.
Selecting Meeting participants
The next step is to determine who should attend your meeting. This can be done by considering the purpose of the meeting and who needs to be involved in order to achieve the goals you have set.
Some factors to consider when deciding who should attend your meeting include:
- The level of involvement – Is this a meeting that requires the attendance of all stakeholders or just those who are directly involved?
- The expertise needed – Does the meeting require attendees to have a certain level of expertise in order to contribute to the discussion?
- The decision-making process – Will decisions be made during the meeting? If so, all stakeholders should be in attendance.
- The size of the meeting – Depending on the purpose and format of the meeting, you may need to limit the number of attendees in order to keep the discussion focused.
- The level of interest – Not all meetings will be interesting to all attendees. You may need to consider who is most likely to be interested in the topics being discussed.
- Video meetings - Video meetings will need to have fewer participants to avoid major disruptions during the meeting process.
By taking the time to consider who should attend your meeting, you can ensure that only those who need to be there are in attendance. This will help to keep the discussion on track and focused. Be sure that you don’t invite employees because of their FOMO (fear of missing out)!
Choosing a Meeting Location
The next step is to decide on a location for your meeting. This should be done based on the number of attendees, the purpose of the meeting, and the type of meeting you are planning. For example, if you hold a meeting in a large auditorium for 10 attendees, they are likely to become disengaged and feel distant from the speaker.
Some factors to consider when choosing a meeting location include:
Size of the Room
The room should be large enough to accommodate all attendees comfortably. The space should be large enough so everyone can be heard and see any visual demonstrations. There should also be handouts and any meeting materials distributed and readily available before the start of the meeting.
The Layout of the Room
The room should be set up in a way that is conducive to the type of meeting you are having. For example, a training session will require a different layout than a brainstorming session. Think about whether or not attendees will need to team up, face a screen, and how the dynamic of that room can affect productivity and engagement.
The room should have all the necessary amenities to make the meeting successful. This includes things like projectors, whiteboards, and audio/visual equipment. Consider having backups - if your meeting is based on a presentation and the equipment fails, the whole meeting could be a disaster.
The meeting location should be convenient for all attendees. This includes things like parking, public transportation, and accessibility. Consider holding a virtual meeting to avoid most location and geographical limitations in most cases.
The cost of the meeting room should be considered when making your decision. This should comply with company budgets and not occur unnecessary costs. For example, spending £5,000 to hold a training day in a small conference room in a new location compared to utilizing existing space for free in the company building.
With meetings on Zoom and video dial-in meetings, attendees should be required to attend the meeting in an office location or an office space to avoid disruptions to the meeting flow. Consider if this meeting is a video meeting or a call and make sure that this is reflected in the preparation if you require a visual presence or not to avoid surprises during the meeting.
By taking the time to consider all of these factors, you can choose a meeting location that will be ideal for the company and the attendees.
How Long Should a Meeting Last?
The next step on this meeting preparation checklist is to determine how long your meeting should be. This will depend on the purpose of the meeting, the number of attendees, and the type of meeting you are having. There are some essential metrics, based on external data that should be considered here:
|Length of Meeting||% of People Paying Attention|
Some factors to consider when deciding on the length of your meeting include:
- The purpose of the meeting – The amount of time needed for the meeting will depend on the purpose. For example, a brainstorming session will require more time than a status update.
- The number of attendees – The number of attendees will also affect the amount of time needed for the meeting. A larger group will require more time to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.
- The type of meeting – The type of meeting will also play a role in the amount of time needed. A training session, for example, will require more time than a brief update.
By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can determine how long your meeting should be. This will help to ensure that the meeting is productive and efficient. You should also consider planning your meeting in increments of 15 minutes, and if a meeting extends past an hour, consider a 15-minute break to refresh and re-engage attendees.
Choosing the Type and Format of Your Meeting
The format of the meeting will be determined by the purpose of the meeting, the number of attendees, and the type of meeting you are having. Each one will be structured in a different way and affects everything from the time needed to the way the room is set up.
Some common meeting types include:
- Problem-solving meetings.
- Decision-making meetings.
- One-on-one meetings.
- Team-building meetings.
- Brainstorming meetings.
- Check-in meetings.
- Quarterly planning meetings.
- Strategy meetings.
The format of the meeting type will ultimately decide how attendees can engage, how the goal is achieved, and how the entire meeting is structured.
- Presentation – This is generally controlled by one meeting host and uses visual aids.
- Roundtable – This format includes everyone in the meeting and is usually suited to small groups and focused on gathering ideas/sharing opinions.
- Huddles – In this type of meeting, the attendees are divided into small groups to discuss a topic. This is a great choice for project updates or status overview meetings.
- The pitch – In this type of meeting, the attendees are given the opportunity to present their ideas to the group. This is a great choice for product pitches and new initiatives.
How to Create a Meeting Agenda
Generally, the last stage of the pre-meeting planning process is time to start planning your agenda. The agenda is one of the most important aspects of the meeting, as it will determine the flow and structure of the discussion.
"Agenda Tip - If possible, plan the most important aspects of your meeting in the first 15 minutes when the attendees are at their highest engagement levels."
When creating your agenda, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- The purpose of the meeting – The agenda should be designed to help you achieve the goals you have set for the meeting.
- The length of the meeting – The agenda should be designed to fit the allotted time for the meeting. This can involve structuring each topic around an allotted time.
- The type of meeting – The agenda should be designed to match the format of the meeting. For example, a training session will require a different agenda than a brainstorming session.
- The attendees – The agenda should be designed to ensure that all attendees are able to participate in the discussion.
By keeping these things in mind, you can create an agenda that will help you achieve your goals for the meeting.
What to Include in Your Meeting Agenda
The final step is to determine what to include in your meeting agenda. This will vary depending on the purpose of the meeting, but there are some general items that should be included in all agendas.
Some of the things you should consider adding to your agenda include:
- A welcome – This is a chance for you to set the tone for the meeting and get everyone on the same page. This is a good opportunity to remind attendees why they are there and thank them for being punctual.
- An Introduction – This is a chance for you to introduce yourself and any other attendees who may not know each other.
- A review of the agenda – This will help to ensure that everyone is aware of what will be discussed during the meeting.
- A discussion of the topics – This is the main section of the meeting where you will discuss the topics at hand.
- A recap – This is a chance for you to summarize what was discussed during the meeting and to set any next steps like action items.
- A thank you – This is a chance to thank the attendees for their time and participation.
By including these items in your agenda, you can ensure that your meeting is productive and successful. There may be deviations in your agenda depending on time, disruptions, and the meeting flow. This is where it can become important for the meeting host to stay on track and encourage the meeting towards the goal.
When thinking about how to plan meetings effectively, there are many things to consider that all work in tandem to contribute to the success of your meeting. By following this meeting preparation checklist and taking the time to set goals, choose a meeting format, and create an agenda, you can ensure that your meeting is productive and successful.
Flowtrace helps you plan and execute successful meetings by providing a simple yet powerful tool for meeting management. With our meeting solutions, you can optimize your meeting culture, gain feedback insight, monitor trends, and much more. It takes minutes to set up and can help your company run effective and efficient company meetings.