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How to Plan an Effective Meeting

In many ways, the question of how to run effective meetings revolves around a separate question, which is how to plan a meeting properly. After all, many of the common problems with productivity and engagement within meetings could be addressed through careful preparation.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of planning meetings and how to actually do it. Or browse through ViewSonic’s range of collaboration tools and software for more effective meetings.

Many businesses are still unaware of the true importance of learning how to run effective meetings, but they continue to ignore this issue at their peril. In fact, according to a report from Doodle, poorly organized meetings cost businesses close to half a trillion dollars a year in the United States and the United Kingdom alone – mainly due to wasted time.

Among the issues highlighted by the study were meetings called at inopportune times, a lack of overall focus, and an insistence that certain staff attend meetings that are irrelevant to them. All of this helps to highlight how critical planning can be. In this article, we will explain precisely how to plan a meeting.

How to Run Effective Meetings Through Goal Setting

The first step towards planning an effective meeting is to be clear on exactly what it is you are hoping to achieve from the session. Another way to think of this is to set a goal or a series of goals or otherwise decide on success criteria. Once you have this in place, you can then plan the contents of the meeting accordingly.

The precise goals of your meeting will depend on your circumstances, the nature of the work you are doing, and so on. Common goals include officially launching a new project, reaching a decision on an important business matter, analyzing past performance and drawing conclusions, and generating ideas for the business to take forward.

Once you have some goals in mind for the meeting, it becomes significantly easier to keep the meeting on track too. Furthermore, you will also be able to leave the meeting with a clear sense of how well it went, and this will be based almost entirely on whether the meeting achieved what you wanted it to.

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Decide on the Main Topics That Will Be Covered

Next, you need to think more carefully about how you want the meeting to play out and, in particular, the topics you hope to cover. Again, this will largely depend on the nature of your business, the work you are doing, and the aims and objectives for the meeting you are organizing, but there are some basic best practices too.

First, you should make a list of the broad points you want to cover. Then, for each of them, you should also plan out more specific points you would like people to know or to speak about during the meeting. This will then give you the basis to create an agenda for the meeting, which can be crucial for productivity.

The main benefit of planning topics in advance is the ability to prevent the discussion from drifting too far off course. This can help to ensure the time in the meeting is spent wisely. Knowing what will be covered can also assist you in deciding who would benefit most from the meeting and who can be of benefit to others through their attendance.

Inviting the Necessary Attendees Ahead of Time

One of the downfalls of meetings is when participants feel that they were not needed in the meeting in the first place. To avoid wasting their time, it is important to identify necessary attendees who have a stake in the topic, those who need to be informed of their tasks, and those who must make the final decisions.

Once the list of participants is finalized, send out a calendar invitation to the relevant parties at least a day or two before the meeting. The invitation should clearly state the date, time, and location of the meeting. Should the meeting be held online, ensure that the conferencing link with its alternate call-in options is provided on the invitation.

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Take the Time to Distribute Your Material in Advance

Distributing materials that could easily have been sent in advance is another major drain on time during meetings, and this also needs to be addressed. Part of the process of learning how to run effective meetings must focus on the need to create, prepare, and distribute relevant material in advance.

The most immediately obvious material that would be useful to send to attendees ahead of the meeting is the agenda. This will allow everyone attending to go in with an understanding of what the meeting is about and why it is being held. Beyond this, slide show presentations, reading material, and other content can also be sent to attendees.

During this stage of the planning process, you should also consider how the material will be distributed. Some material works best as a hard copy, but if people in the meeting are likely to have access to a laptop, you could just as easily send the material via email or cast the agenda onto a digital display so that everyone has access.

Make Sure You Prepare the Room Before People Arrive

The last thing to focus on is preparing the meeting room before people arrive so that you minimize the amount of time wasted during the session. Make sure there is sufficient seating for the attendees and that everyone has a view of any displays during the meeting.

Another thing to consider is your use of technology. For example, a lot of wasted time in meetings occurs early on, when equipment is being set up. Try to set up the required devices before people arrive. Some tech solutions, such as ViewSonic’s interactive whiteboards, are also specifically designed with fast start-up times in mind.

Your preparation for the meeting and the associated benefits can be easily undone if the room is ready. It is also important to avoid situations where your chosen meeting room has been double-booked or an earlier meeting overruns, or it could result in your meeting being delayed.

LB0248 - How to Run Effective Meetings: How to Plan a Meeting

Final Thoughts

Meetings are a major part of running a business and learning how to run effective meetings is vital for maximizing productivity. However, achieving this requires a robust planning process.

The question of planning a meeting is one that many business leaders overlook, but it can be the difference between success and failure. The planning process itself should involve setting clear goals, deciding on the topics that will be covered, making sure the necessary attendees are invited prior, distributing material in advance, and ensuring the meeting room is set up properly.

Running an effective meeting can be easily achieved when you hold worthwhile meetings, carry out productivity practices, communicate better, and have a comprehensive follow-up. Technology is an important part of ensuring the success of meetings, especially in hybrid or remote work environments. Check out ViewSonic’s intuitive meeting devices and solutions for more effective and efficient collaborations.