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