Work meetings are a very effective instrument to achieve the company’s goals, as well as to coordinate teams. The problem always arises when it comes to meeting preparation, as excessive meetings are a waste of time.
Alan Barker, in the second edition of the book “Managing meetings”, states: “90% of an effective discussion takes place before the meeting actually takes place” (1).
- Participants should not see the meeting as a waste of time.
- Prepare a list of things to be discussed at the meeting, to bring order and reassurance to the person running the meeting.
- You should always try to find a moment of personal contact with the participants, to socialize and to avoid any tense or awkward moments.
What you need to know about meeting preparation
In the business world, there are a lot of daily meetings and most participants find them boring and long. Therefore, it is very important to know how to organize a meeting following a strategic plan to achieve good results.
Below are the steps to prepare an effective meeting, and some tips that will help you in this preparation.
1. What are the 4 Ps for an effective meeting?
Meetings are very important to companies, as they help to organize goals and establish strategies and tactics to achieve those goals.
It may seem simple enough to conduct a meeting, but it is not. It includes not only the time of the meeting itself, but also the time before and after the meeting.
To be effective, the 4 Ps must be taken into account:
The purpose of holding a meeting is to be able to make decisions together and to have other people’s points of view and to have them contribute their ideas, which is called brainstorming.
A meeting should not be held if it is not necessary. There is some information that can be done via email, and platforms like Slack to communicate by message or even phone calls. A meeting has to be held if any of the following conditions are present:
- When looking for the reaction of other people to a situation or problem.
- When the problems are complex and several options or points of view are sought for a final decision to be made.
- When the commitment of the other participants is required and when they are committed to its implementation.
If there are too many participants, decision-making will be very difficult and the objectives will not be achieved. Large meetings tend to have too many people speaking at the same time, which can lead to confusion about what is being discussed.
The composition of the team should also be taken into account: if the team is homogeneous, it will work better together, but there will be fewer points of view and fewer conflicts. On the other hand, a mixed group provides more value, as the participants are very different from each other, but a disadvantage is that it will take more time in the meetings to reach an agreement.
Roles of the participants
There are three formal roles among the participants in any meeting, and each of them has its specific functions. It is important to know that these three roles are not always in place, but it would be very helpful to have them in order to have an organized meeting.
|Manager||leading the process||Manage the time, define the structure of the meeting, control the conversations, supervise the development of the group, establish the rules, summarise and present the conclusions|
|Administrator||Recording||record what happens in the meeting, assist in time management, assist in maintaining order in the meeting, can summarize the ideas presented at each point|
|Participant||Is the thinking resource and is the owner of the tasks||report task status and task completion, present information that is relevant, contribute ideas or information, help solve problems|
It is very important to prepare for the meeting, organize what is going to be done, how it is going to be done, and what is going to be discussed. You should arrive at the meeting prepared, knowing the main information and the roles of each person.
Here are some suggested rules for planning effective meetings (2):
- Rule of sixths: two-thirds of the agenda should be about the current issues. And the remaining third can be divided in two ways: the first part can cover past agenda items, and the second part can be brainstorming time.
- Agenda integrity rule: all agenda items must be discussed and what is not on the agenda should not be discussed.
- Time integrity rule: start and end on time.
- Rule of thirds: meetings are divided into three parts: the start-up period where the less difficult topics are discussed, the working period where the more difficult topics are considered, and finally the break-down period when the meeting is coming to an end.
In meetings, whether virtual or face-to-face, it is always necessary to introduce the participants and make them feel comfortable, introducing themselves to the rest of the group, if they do not know each other or if they are new members. In addition, it is very important to encourage the participation of the invitees, this can be achieved by asking open questions, establishing eye contact, or encouraging them to share their experiences.
Finally, it is very important to close the meeting by summarizing all the tasks assigned and the decisions that were made.
2. Establish purpose and goals
This step is all about defining the purpose of the meeting. Whether it is to plan what you are going to do in the coming days, brainstorm, solve a problem, etc.
Defining a clear goal will be much easier when preparing the agenda for the meeting.
3. Create and share an agenda
Having the meeting agenda prepared with all the activities that will be done and the discussion points that will take place at the meeting will help to achieve the meeting’s goals.
Since there is no single agenda for all meetings, you must first define whether they are regular or one-time meetings.
For such meetings, one might think that there is no need to create an agenda, as all participants know the format of the meetings, but this is wrong.
In recurring meetings the main thing is simplicity, and having an agenda already defined will be very useful, the only thing that is needed is a list with the points to follow. You should write down the points to be discussed in the meeting, and you can even assign a speaker to each point. This list should be sent a few days before the meeting, between 1 and 3 days, by means of communication used within the company.
One-time meetings /first-time meetings
What needs to be taken into account here is alignment, as the participants of the meeting do not know how the meetings are conducted. This is why you should:
- Explain the purpose and goal of the meeting
- Establish the structure and length
- Set the responsibilities for each participant
Classification of business meetings
Some of the types of business meetings are:
|These meetings are between employees of the organization. The types of meetings: conferences, seminars, remote videoconferences, etc.||These are meetings between several companies, where top management and sometimes middle management participate.
Types of meetings: negotiations, informative sessions, forums, etc.
|These are meetings with a certain protocol. In these meetings, there is a defined objective such as, for example, the signing of an agreement.|
4. Send invitations to meetings
Invitations should be sent to all those attending the meeting at least two weeks in advance, so that they have enough time to add it to their agendas.
Invitations should include all the details, from the purpose of the meeting to the agenda, and if it is a virtual meeting, the link to the videoconference.
5. Collect questions and ideas from your team
You can gather information from the participants before the meeting. This works very well in brainstorming meetings, give them a space to send their ideas and everyone can participate in the same way.
Also, you can send out a survey for the meeting members to complete in advance, so that the most important topics can be identified and put on the agenda.
6. Distribute support materials
If there is going to be a presentation, it is important that meeting participants review it beforehand, or if you need someone to prepare a presentation, communicate this in advance.
The presentation can be attached to the meeting invitation or sent through an internal communication channel used by the company, so that all participants are aware of the upcoming meeting.
7. Prepare your slides
Before the meeting, as the presentation needs to be ready for use, it is recommended:
- Slides should be simple, with not much text because it bores the reader and is not visually attractive, they have to be more dynamic, and have one sentence per slide.
- Apply the Rule of Three method, e.g., have three columns or three bullet points, etc. This way, the person can visualize it better.
- Few slides
- Use elements such as images, icons, graphs, and tables, among others.
- If there are many presenters in a meeting, it is recommended to have the main presentation. It can be shared with the collaborators before the meeting so that everyone can add their slides in the same file.
- When preparing a slide, it is necessary to take into account the moments of interaction with the members, so live polls can be added to the slides.
8. Create opportunities for interaction
It is very important when designing the meeting agenda to create points of interaction for members to actively participate so that you have an engagement with the meeting and what is happening. If meeting members are left in a passive role, they will lose focus.
Therefore, you should review the agenda and consider when to listen to the participants. This is a way to make the meetings democratic, and it will be an attraction to involve all participants in the meeting with their different points of view
9. Prepare the opening
The way you start the meeting is crucial for the rest of the meeting, so the opening has to be very well-prepared.
Perhaps meetings tend to have a moment of tension or shyness at the beginning, so in order to relax people, you can start with quick interactive activities to get people to participate and relax for the whole meeting. These activities are useful to be able to chat at the beginning of the meeting and thus create a moment of socialization among all the members.
And once the meeting formally begins, quickly summarize the reason for the meeting and briefly explain the agenda items to everyone.
10. Organizing the meeting
When organizing the meeting, think about all the arrangements needed in the meeting room. If it is a face-to-face meeting, think about very simple things that you may have overlooked, such as heating, computers ready to present the slides, and also the snacks that can be given to the participants, such as water, coffee, etc.
Meeting room: face-to-face meeting
If the meeting is in a face-to-face format, remember to include the room number of the meeting in the invitation, or write it on the internal communication channel you use.
Also take into account the number of participants to ensure that everyone has a place to sit and be comfortable, and it is always best to add extra chairs to be prepared for any problems.
In addition, the size of the room should be taken into account. If the room is very large, microphones should be provided so that everyone can listen, and all the participants have their own microphones to share their opinions.
Meeting room: hybrid meeting
This type of meeting must be held in places where all the technological instruments are in perfect condition. The room must have a large screen, since there are people in the room and others who are at a distance.
In addition, it is essential to have good audio, especially for those participants who are at a distance to be able to hear well and thus be able to interact and give their points of view. Do not forget to give a microphone to the members who are in the room so that when they speak, those who are virtually connected can also hear them.
It is also essential to have a good internet connection, because, without it, it will be really difficult for the remote participants to follow the meeting.
Online room: remote meeting
It is very important that everyone has the link to access the video conference in a meeting room. This link can be shared a few hours before the meeting because if it is sent with the invitation, it is very likely to get lost. As the invitation is sent a few days before, a reminder can be sent to participants a few minutes before the meeting so that they do not forget about the meeting.
You, as a host of the meeting, have to start the videoconference a few minutes before and solve any audio or video problems that may occur. When the participants start joining the meeting, make sure that everyone can hear you. Finally, encourage people to turn on their cameras to make the meeting more personal and relaxed.
How to prepare a Google Meet meeting?
Google Meet is one of the platforms where you can hold virtual meetings, and it is a tool that works very well. This is because you can make videoconferences with many people at the same time. You do not need to download any application, just follow the steps below, and you will be able to start your videoconference without any problem.
At the end of the meeting
Once the meeting has ended, there should be some time left for the participants to share their comments, doubts or suggestions. It is also important to summarize the most important points that were discussed, and summarize both positive and negative ideas and suggestions from the participants.
Finally, you would like to thank all the team members for their participation in the meeting.
After the meeting
Once the meeting is over, a summary of the meeting will be sent to the participants in the following days. This summary should clarify whether the planned results were achieved, whether the tasks were well assigned to each person, the time they will have to carry out these activities, and the most important conclusions.
Evaluate the performance of the meeting
You can use surveys to evaluate the performance of the meeting, send them to the participants via email and ask for feedback on how the meeting went and the final outcome of the meeting. Some sample questions that can be used are:
- Did the meeting start and end on time?
- Did the meeting participants have space to present their points of view?
- Were there any conclusions of importance to solve the problems at hand?
- Did the meeting manager act professionally?
The answers to these types of questions are very valuable for correcting mistakes and improving future meetings. They are even beneficial for the team and the whole company.
You will never be 100% prepared for a perfect meeting, as there may be a particular situation that needs to be corrected right away.
But preparing a proper agenda, with the important points to be discussed, is very helpful. Also, if you are a little nervous or anxious, having an established order of how the meeting will go will be a great relief.
With the tips explained in this article, you will be running great meetings from now on.
1. Baker, A. (n.d.). How to Manage Meetings. How to Manage Meetings (Second Edition ). Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://books.google.es/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XLp772qW-zIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=managing+meeting+Alan+Barker&ots=V7VGKz-y5d&sig=68_UK360BeF8QVyudQMpzz8-UnE#v=onepage&q=managing%20meeting%20Alan%20Barker&f=false.
2. Tropman, J. E. (n.d.). Effective Meetings: improving gorup decision-making (Third Edition). Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://books.google.com.ar/books?hl=en&lr=&id=xVYXBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=effective+meetings:+improving+group+decision+making:+17+(sage+human+services+guide)+pdf&ots=qLFHx0mGtl&sig=iniANy0iqnWtNi76WhKup4dCVX0#v=onepage&q&f=false.