How to Plan a Successful Meeting

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
In this article
  • How to set a meeting goal.
  • How to document steps to reaching the team goal.
  • How to delegate tasks to team members.

The last installment of Team Basics outlined steps for using e-mail and voice mail to communicate with co-workers in the team-working environment. What about those times when you must actually meet as a group, in person or by phone, to caucus on the task at hand? As with using voice mail and e-mail, wasting team time makes you look like dead weight. Take the initiative to make your next meeting a productive success. How does one ensure this?

The success of any team session is directly proportional to the amount of planning you have given it. Giving consideration to the time, the material and the environment makes the difference between a bang! or a fizz. The following steps can help ensure that your meetings won’t be equated with snores:

Step One: Scheduling the Meeting.

Every meeting takes place within a greater workplace context. Check out your company’s calendar, your co-workers’ availability and other holidays, deadlines and events to determine which conflicts will have an impact on the meeting and help to avoid a lack of participation or other, larger surprises.

Step Two: Planning the Meeting.

In order to plan for a successful meeting, take a moment to think through the purpose of the meeting. Read through the steps listed below. Then e-mail your thoughts on these points to participating co-workers in the form of a suggested agenda. In your e-mail, encourage co-workers to add their notes for use at the meeting:

State the Overall Goal. Almost every meeting is part of a series of meetings related to an overall organizational goal.

State the Purpose of the Meeting. Given the overall goal, define the purpose of the meeting. For example, to provide or gather information, plan an activity, solve a problem, make a decision, share information or take action.

Identify the Desired Outcome(s). What do you expect to accomplish by the end of this particular meeting?

Identify the Deliverable. Given the desired outcome(s), what tangible deliverable do you want as a result of the meeting? For example, an action plan, a list or an agreement.

Determine Team Roles. Spread the wealth and get others involved by giving other team members a role in the meeting. Identify the team leader, facilitator, timekeeper, scribe and/or recorder. Ensure each team member has a clear understanding of his or her duties and responsibilities.

Select a Decision Strategy. State up front how the decision will be made, whether it is a command decision, expert decision, majority vote, minority control, command decision with input or consensus. Describe how the decision will be made, by whom, who will be involved, and how they will be involved.

Select a Process to Achieve the Outcome. Identify how you are going to accomplish your objective. For example, you might brainstorm, review, list or discuss a topic.

Step Three: After the E-Mail and Before the Meeting.

Build the Final Agenda. Take all of the above, in addition to comments received from co-workers, and build an agenda that includes the time, place, amount of time the meeting will take, the topic to be covered, the process by which decisions will be made, and the "leader" of each piece of the meeting.

Distribute the Agenda, preferably at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Create the Environment. With a bit of forethought, you can create a good meeting environment given the constraints that all organizations face. You can reserve the room, arrange to sit in a U-shape, have all the "working stuff" already on the tables (e.g., stickie notes and markers). If the meeting is longer than two hours, arrange for some refreshments. Even ice water helps.

This article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010
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