Meetings 101: Prepare
I go to many, many, many meetings. They vary in usefulness. The best ones are when (if I’m the one planning the meeting) I have done my homework and prepared an agenda, set up the technology correctly, and then followed up with action items. In other words, I’m prepared.
Do I do this every time? Noooooo. Should I? Yes! I’m going to use a real-life personal example of when I didn’t do all the right things to give you some hints about preparing for a meeting.
Here are the general guidelines, read below if you want to see what happens beyond the theory:
Face-to -face and Virtual:
- Prepare an agenda
- Send out invitations in advance, and add reminders
- Set up a meeting workspace if the meeting size/repetition/project warrants this
- Have a note-taking system in place for follow-up
- Check all technology before the meeting (recording, phones, passwords)
- Talk to all co-presenters and make sure presentations are pre-loaded
- Promote all co-presenters to presenter ahead of time
- Set up a recording for absent attendees
I held a meeting last week that I thought I had prepared for, but I didn’t plan for contingencies.
What went wrong?
- The agenda was too full. It’s better to give back time than to run out of time
- Even though I tested the recording function, something went wrong
- We started late due to confusion with guest speakers
- The phone system went nuts
What I should have, could have done:
- Planned buffer and Q&A time for each speaker. I had planned from 10-15 minutes per person, trying to pack in a lot of information in a short time. It would have been better to plan another meeting, or run the meeting longer. I could also have thought about using an alternate method of communication for some of this information.
- I needed a backup plan for something as important as the recording. Thankfully, I did record most of the meeting, using OneNote’s handy recording feature.
- I should have planned my opening better. Since many in this group arrive late, I could have shown a poll in Live Meeting, asking the group for input on future topics to fill time and gather information instead of just chatting while we waited for others to join.
- Did not anticipate the phone melt-down. Thankfully, someone in the group IM’d me with a solution – call the operator.
Here are the things I did right:
- Sent an agenda in advance (this drove attendance)
- Tested out the technology (Live Meeting) in advance (needed to remind myself of some features)
- Arrived early and grabbed a conference room
- Made sure the phone system was set to not announce callers – that way late joiners didn’t interrupt the meeting in progress
- Used Communicator and Chat in Live Meeting to get help from colleagues
- Used the polling slides at the end to gather feedback (and had them set up in advance)
- Had OneNote open to take notes, so was able to quickly turn on the recording
Tomorrow I’ll cover agendas, meeting workspaces, Outlook tips and some Live Meeting tips.