The more work you do before you walk into the room, the more productive and efficient you’ll be.

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In theory, everyone understands that preparation can make or break an important meeting. The more work you do before you walk into the room, the more productive and efficient you’ll be.

— Identify the purpose. Clarifying the purpose of your meeting is the first and most important planning step, and will drive all the other elements of your prep.

— Make sure you need one. Don’t pile on another meeting without thinking about other ways to accomplish your goal first.

— Develop a preliminary agenda. Decide how much time to devote to each item and what order makes sense.

— Select the right participants. Consider who can help you accomplish your goal and who will be affected by the meeting’s outcome.

— Assign roles. Giving participants a specific role to play can increase focus and engagement.

— Decide where and when. The meeting space helps to set the tone.

— Send the invitation and agenda. Make sure attendees know the purpose of the meeting.

— Send any reports or pre-reading. Also, be prepared to highlight key take-aways from the reading for those who haven’t had time to comply.

— Identify the decision-making process. Choose a decision-making method ahead of time to ensure that you leave your meeting with a clear outcome.

— Test any required equipment. This step seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it’s hard to make time for logistical details.

— Finalize the agenda. If the agenda has changed, distribute the final version to participants.

— Follow up. If you’ve assigned roles, verify that attendees understand the parts they will play.

— Prepare yourself. Doing the work to prepare will boost your confidence and set you up for a successful meeting.

(Adapted from “Running Meetings,” from the HBR 20-Minute Manager Series.)