When it comes to planning the perfect meeting, preparation is key. The more legwork you put in upfront, the more efficient and productive you and your attendees will be. However, unless you have plenty of free time on your hands, it can be tough to pull together a professional itinerary to follow.
Fear not, as we’ve got you covered. Our ultimate business meeting checklist guide will help you to plan a professional meeting, making sure all bases are covered.
Check these off as you go to help plan your next meeting.
Things to do:
To be able to pull together a fantastic meeting, you first need to know how it will serve a purpose. Do you need to update your team about changes? Are you trying to solve a problem? Are there important decisions that need to be made company-wide?
Understanding its purpose will help steer your meeting in the right direction and make preparation a much easier task. If no clear purpose comes to mind, then a meeting probably isn’t needed right now.
Things always work better when you have a plan of action to follow. This is where your primary agenda comes into play. The easiest way to plan your agenda is by:
Assigning important tasks to colleagues can help streamline the process. Spend some time thinking about who will enhance the outcome of the meeting. Pinpoint those with extensive knowledge and expertise about the topic to be discussed.
Some of the key positions typically assigned to colleagues will involve:
While every meeting isn’t going to need every type of contributor, it’s a good idea to try and have at least one of each of the above. At the end of the day, successful outcomes are determined by covering the subject at hand in a timely and efficient manner.
You should also pull together a list of colleagues who will be directly affected by the outcome of the meeting. Depending on the size and length of the meeting, the number of helpers and attendees will vary. As a rough guide:
It’s important to remember that when you hold a meeting, teammates are taken away from their ongoing work commitments. This can have a direct impact on attendance levels and commitment, so try to keep things short and sweet.
There is no point in holding a business meeting on a day that people cannot commit to. Unless you have extremely flexible staff, asking them to attend in their free time is going to be a hard sell to make.
Begin by checking colleague workloads. Where possible, aim to hold your meeting toward the end of the working week. You don’t need to have absolutely everyone’s time availability down, but you will need a rough idea of when most people are free.
When looking at time availability, check flexibility with your attendees. Are they happy to postpone current tasks for an hour or two? Is it beneficial to the business to ask this of them? Is attendance mandatory or elective?
Finally, giving as much notice as possible will always result in maximum attendance. Sending out a memo telling everyone to drop everything tomorrow probably won’t work in your favour. Where possible, give anywhere between four and six weeks advance notice.
The meeting venue that you choose should reflect the purpose of the meeting itself. Are you planning on a more intimate and informal meeting? Are the attendee’s stakeholders, management or staff? What kind of equipment are you going to need? All of these questions will help determine the best meeting space for your needs.
The best setup for an informal meeting is the circle setup. Simply place chairs in a circle or semicircle with the speakers in the middle. This helps encourage all attendees to participate without position or ranking coming into play.
Formal meetings will always benefit from a boardroom style set-up. This positions attendees by company ranking and helps set the tone for serious talk. It also allows speakers to be facing attendees at all times, helping guide the topic instead of attendees guiding it.
As soon as you have a venue and set up in mind, it’s time to send out invitations to your chosen attendees. Using a platform such as Google Calendar, you can request that all invitations are RSVP’d as soon as possible.
This will give you a better idea of how many people are actually able to attend. In turn, you can then choose the most appropriate meeting venue for the estimated capacity.
Where possible, always try to include a line of text at the bottom of your email invitation specifying an acceptance date cut-off. Ensure you follow up the first email invitation with a second update the following day to prompt invitees to accept or decline.
Once you have your attendance numbers confirmed and in place, it’s a good idea to send out a summary of the meeting agenda. Ideally, there should include any information that needs to be pre-read by your guests before the day.
The agenda should also summarise how long the meeting is expected to last and what the key messages are. By doing this, you are giving your attendees a chance to clear their diary, develop any questions they may have and better understand exactly what the meeting will cover.
Remember, this just needs to be a summary of the agenda. You will give out a printed agenda on the day that highlights all of the specifics.
If you have other people presenting at the meeting, you all need to set a deadline for when they should submit to their presentations to you. It’s extremely important that either you or one of your colleagues takes the time to check everything is in order.
It’s at this point that you can verify presentations are on point and reflect the purpose of the meeting properly. It also gives you a chance to formulate your own plan for the meeting further and cover any missed opportunities.
For the most part, you’ll typically want at least a week to review any presentations. The last thing that you want to do is rush yourself and place additional stress on those presenting at the meeting.
Meetings rely on group decisions being made in an efficient and effective manner. There are no right or wrong ways to make decisions, but there are easy ways to go about it. Some of the best ways to cast votes and count numbers include:
Every business meeting is going to need a variety of equipment to be able to work. Sometimes, all you need is a whiteboard and your notes. However, most corporate meetings are going to need much more than this.
In today’s world, you have plenty of productivity and collaboration tools to use. Think along the lines of Google Docs, Monday.com and online surveys. Modern technology also makes it easier for long-distance guests and speakers to take part. Skype, Google Meet (rel=nofollow +open in new window) and even WhatsApp all come with conferencing technology.
Some of the most commonly used equipment in meetings includes:
While most meeting venues well have AV technology on-site, it’s important to double-check everything. if you need to transport your own equipment, logistics will come into play – adding onto your already hectic schedule.
By this point, you should have everything in order and ready to go. The time and date is set, the venue is secured, meeting guests have RSVP’d and the itinerary schedule should be locked down.
You should send out the finalised agenda approximately 48 hours before the start of the meeting. Make sure to include any changes or important updates, along with a detailed timeline of events.
The day before your business meeting, send out a short email reminding participants about their role. Request confirmation that they are attending as planned and give them a chance to raise any questions or concerns that they may have.
It’s also good business etiquette to send out a quick reminder to attendees. Something short and sweet along the lines of:
“I look forward to seeing you at tomorrow’s meeting at (time), (location). If you have any questions you would like to raise or touch on, please feel free to reply to this email at your earliest convenience and I will make sure they are raised“.
If your meeting venue is located away from your place of work, you should also send out the GPS location and an emergency contact number to those travelling by themselves. Just to help avoid any potential delays or changes to the agenda
Meeting day has arrived and you should now have everything set in stone. Before you make your way to the meeting venue, ensure that you have printed copies of all your notes, agenda and data. Sure, you could rely solely on your computer – but these have a nasty habit of feeling at completely the wrong time.
Pass out copies of the printed agenda and reading material as your guests start to arrive. you will want their focus to be on the subject at hand – not on what’s happening on their social media accounts. Unless you are using modern technology for sharing and collaborating, you should request that all phones are switched to silent.
Start by introducing yourself, your speakers and why you are holding the meeting, and then follow your meeting checklist and agenda. With every element in place and a timed plan of action, you should be able to enjoy a meeting that runs smoothly with all of your targets and goals easily met.
A business meeting checklist might seem ‘old school’ – but sometimes, it’s the tried and trusted methods that make all the difference between success and failure.
An amazing agenda is always going to be a surefire winner, but the venue you choose is just as equally as important. You need somewhere specifically designed for professional corporate meetings.
Whether you’re in Adelaide, Brisbane, Macquarie Park, Melbourne, Newcastle, Queenstown or Sydney – we have versatile, flexible, and well-appointed rooms made for better business. Check out what’s on offer and contact us today to take the next step to meetings success.