The Ultimate Business Meeting Checklist Guide

talkagency

28 March 2020

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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. 

Business Meeting Checklist

Check these off as you go to help plan your next meeting.

Things to do:

  • Decide on the purpose of your meeting
  • Create your primary agenda
  • Assign colleagues specific tasks or roles
  • Choose who you want to attend the meeting
  • Check the calendar to find the best day
  • Decide on a venue to hold your meeting
  • Send out email invitations to chosen attendees
  • Send out the agenda to participants
  • Set a deadline for presentation reviews
  • Decide on how decisions will be made
  • Arrange any special equipment you may need
  • Send out the finalised agenda to all attendees
  • Check that all participants are attending 
  • Have all your notes and printouts to hand

Decide on the purpose of your meeting

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.

Create your primary agenda

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:

  • Creating a brief summary of what you’ll be discussing – this helps add context to all of the remaining steps.
  • Working out the order of events and how much time each one will last for – longer meetings typically result in less attendee attention.
  • Decide on how many breaks you will have and for how long.
  • Pulling together a ‘next steps’ discussion that asks for attendee input and answers any potential questions they may have.
Create Your Primary Agenda

Assign colleagues specific tasks or roles

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:

  • Contributors – these people help keep the discussion on track and upbeat.
  • Experts – these are the ones who can answer more niche and technical questions.
  • Facilitators – perfect for those with good leadership skills. Helps guide discussions while remaining neutral.
  • Timekeeper – someone who ensures that certain subjects don’t overrun and detract from other important topics.

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.

Choose who you want to attend the meeting

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:

  • Problem-solving – up to 10 people.
  • Brainstorming – up to 20 people.
  • Company-wide – all staff.

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.

Check the calendar to find the best day

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.

Decide on a venue to hold your meeting

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.

Decide on Venue

Informal meeting

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 meeting

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.

Send out email invitations to chosen attendees

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.

Send out the agenda to participants

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.

Set a deadline for presentation reviews

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. 

Set a deadline for presentation reviews

Decide on how decisions will be made

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:

  • Leaders vote – this is normally the quickest way to reach a conclusion. However, it’s not always the best way. By giving power to one person, attendees may feel that they are not being listened to properly. 
  • Majority choice – this method is typically seen as the fairest way to make decisions. While it might take a little longer than a leader’s vote, it allows everyone’s voice to be heard – creating outcomes that are more likely to be accepted.
  • Silent vote – when touching on important or sensitive decisions, anonymity can go a long way. Instead of asking attendees to be vocal about their opinions, have them fill in a form at the end of the meeting. This is perfect for topics such as dissatisfaction, finances and management handling issues.

Arrange any special equipment you may need

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:

  • Flat-screen TV or projector
  • Microphone and speakers
  • Laptops and charging points
  • Printers and scanners

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.

Send out the finalised agenda to all attendees

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. 

Check that all participants are attending 

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 

Check that all participants are attending

Have all your notes and printouts to hand

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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