How to Prepare and Hold Meetings

Have you ever sat through an entire meeting and had no idea what the purpose was? To make matters worse, when you left the meeting you had no idea if you were supposed to do anything or even if anything was accomplished? I have.

Attending meetings like these can be so frustrating.  Not only do I come out of the meeting completely confused but I feel like I wasted my time when I could have been doing something more productive.

These types of meetings happen all the time. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few things that can be done to ensure that the participants come away with a good idea of what the meeting is about as well as a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

A One Page Agenda

YES! One page. You don’t have to completely fill the entire page. When I say a one page agenda I mean that it should not be more than one page. If you feel like you need two pages, consider scheduling two meetings or focus on the one important thing. Most people don’t have the attention span to sit through a two page agenda and if you try it, you will lose them.

Figure out the most important thing you want to accomplish

Don’t worry about the detail – well at least not for the agenda. You should be fully familiar with the topic and know the details. I have a bullet list of the important things I want to discuss.  I don’t clutter the agenda with them but I am prepared to talk about them as they are helpful points but they don’t have to be on the agenda.  

A good concise summary of the topic must be sent out to the attendees ahead of the meeting to ensure that the attendees are prepared with questions and/or input to achieve the goals you want to achieve during the meeting.

Keep in mind that the success of most meetings is not the length of the agenda but the outcome.

Focus on the goals:

There’s no point in scheduling a meeting and getting everyone in one room if you don’t know what you want to accomplish.  Are you trying to get buy-in to a project you are working on? Are you trying to get new ideas for the project? For example, are you asking the participants to help you figure out additional research that needs to be done? Are you showcasing the work your team did on a particular project and how you accomplished it? It’s important to let the attendees know why they are going to be sitting in a conference room or on a conference call for a certain amount of time.

If you are asking for help on a project you probably are asking people do do certain tasks. It’s important to be clear about this.  Be with another sheet of paper to write down the tasks and the names of the people assigned to do the tasks.  This will be helpful later on when you are doing your follow up.

That’s it. During the meeting that’s all you have to do. Be concise, be susinct and be prepared.

One bonus tip:

After the meeting you must send out a summary of what took place. You don’t have to write down everything that happened during the meeting or the call. You’re not a court reporter or a scribe. Touch on the highlights of the meeting and list the people who will be helping you as well as the due dates or at least the dates when you will be reaching out for status. Doing this will make sure that everyone is on the same page and there are no miss-understandings.

In your summary invite questions and make yourself available for additional individual discussions in case there is a need to clarify anything that took place or anything being asked of the participants.

Do you have any other tips and/or tricks for holding meetings?  These days we are meeting more than usual.  What have you learned about your meeting style?  what has worked and what hasn’t worked?  I’d love to hear it.

See you on the next blog post or the newsletter.  Make sure to subscribe for more articles like this.



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