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The secret of big meetings: preparation

Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered what happened or where the conversation is going? Perhaps the point of it all seemed lost. It’s frustrating when nobody in the meeting knows what’s going on.

You have likely attended several meetings like this and may now be able to schedule meetings yourself. I’ll tell you a secret: meetings don’t have to feel like a pointless march. Great meetings are possible. You just have to be prepared.

Here are three ways to prepare for a great meeting:

  1. Designate a meeting leader and moderator. While a meeting leader plays a strategic role, the moderator takes care of the meeting processes. The executives determine the purpose of a meeting and own the results and drive the meeting and discussion. The moderators, on the other hand, are responsible for preparing the agenda with the input of the leader, distributing the agenda, keeping time, taking and distributing notes and following up on all action items. In smaller meetings, the leader and moderator are sometimes the same person. But it’s often a good idea to keep them separate. Both roles are critical to successful and efficient meetings.
  2. Create a carefully planned agenda. An agenda creates clarity for the meeting leader and the participants. First, it should contain a meeting title, date and time, and a list of participants. Next, state the main purpose of the meeting in a brief statement along with two or three desired outcomes. Finally, outline a program for the meeting. This keeps track of the flow of discussion points and allotted time for each topic, including any notes or resources that may be relevant. If you take a few minutes to plan the agenda, you avoid the dangers of an unnecessary meeting or, worse, one where no one knows what you are doing.
  3. Choose the right setting. Regardless of whether it is an in-person or a virtual meeting, it is important that the environment contributes to, and not distracts from, the creative vision. From clean space and natural light to comfy chairs and healthy snacks, engaging attendees is key to a productive meeting. If you’re virtual, find a place with minimal background noise, a decent background, and balanced lighting. This will help you and other participants to keep focus and maintain a purposeful collaboration, even when you are not in the same room.

Preparing for meetings is time consuming, but too much time and resources are spent on everyone just to inspire them. Taking care of the front end will ensure results during execution. Because if you’re prepared, not only will you have a clear goal and a way to measure your progress toward that goal, but you’ll see tremendous returns in terms of team morale and productivity. How can you start planning great meetings?


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