Organising and running an effective meeting is a delicate task. You will be investing a lot of time into the event and meeting oratortaking responsibility for the attendees’ time too.

Depending on the purpose of the meeting, you can think about how to plan it. In order to plan an effective meeting, you need to consider the priorities, the outcomes, its sequence, the timings, the agenda, the date, the time and the venue of the meeting.

Priorities

Depending on the purpose of the meeting, you need to decide on its priorities. You can prioritize the issues to be discussed according to their importance and urgency. Important matters may not need to be resolved quickly, whereas urgent matters don’t allow for a lot of discussion. If a matter is both urgent and important, it should be a priority. To avoid wasting time at the end of meeting deciding on ‘any other business,’ circulate a draft of the agenda in advance and ask for any other matters worth considering. It will ensure that you strictly stick to the agenda in the meeting.

Outcomes

When setting an agenda for a meeting, you also need to decide what you want to achieve from this meeting. Is it a decision or generating ideas or just getting feedback? If people know what is expected of them, they would usually stick to the topic.

Sequence

When sequencing a meeting, always put issues of little importance at the start otherwise you would never get to them in the end after exhausting all the time over more important issues. Place urgent issues on top and non-urgent items down in your agenda to ensure that none of the urgent issues are skipped. Vary the agenda to ensure changes in pace and intensity of the meeting. People are usually more sensitive towards the start of a meeting. Try scheduling a controversial item towards the end of the meeting, and if possible, don’t group many controversial items together. People usually relax and get bored after lunch. Try and not schedule any boring items just after lunch but try to make the session more active and involving.

Timings

Instead of being arbitrary about the time spent on different items, think it through and consider it well before you plan the meeting. Try to keep the timings realistic. If the meeting is to go on for a longer duration and the attendees have to travel, provide refreshment at least 30 minutes prior to the start. Also, provide for sufficient amounts of break in the meeting to keep everyone fresh. The breaks don’t need to be long and hefty, even five minute breaks can be refreshing. Restaurant lunches where you sit down formally add to the time of meeting, avoid them. Working lunches or buffet is a better idea. If you are running the meeting, you would like to have precise times on your agenda. It will help you control the pace of the meeting.

Attendees

Consider who you would be inviting for the meeting. Often people from different departments add to the input. Also, you might want to invite a client or an outsider for a fresh opinion. However, refrain from discussing anything sensitive around them. Sensitive issues should be handled in private meetings. Also, inviting a boss to the meeting can be quite distracting and intimidating. Try to limit their involvement and let them know what you are trying to achieve through this.

Date

Pick a date and consult with everyone. A day that doesn’t cause a lot of disruption is good. You’d also like to schedule it well in advance so that people can prioritize it. Often people plan up to a year ahead.

Time

The meeting times will vary depending on the type and duration of the meeting. However, you should strive to start early and finish by the end of the working day. If the delegates are traveling a long distance, you might want to consider arranging overnight accommodation for them. Also, if there is a majority of them staying overnight, you might want to consider for others to stay with them as it helps in bonding.

Venue

Normal meetings are mostly informal and don’t require a lot of planning about the venue. However, important meetings that are held at unfamiliar venues require location recce. You might want to check the facilities and the layout in advance. Don’t rely on the word of the venue staff, even though they can be trusted. Because, if you don’t check every minute detail - be it the ample number of laptop charging spots or the visibility of the screen projector, something may go wrong and waste time in the meeting. There can be a lot to keep in mind when organising a meeting, so make sure you have prepared a checklist in advance and have it handy to keep a tab. Also, ensure that you circulate a fresh copy of the agenda before the start of the meeting.

Run the meeting effectively sticking to the agenda and try to get something out of everyone. Encourage the shy and politely suppress the over-enthusiastic. You need to remain in control of the proceedings at all times. Take notes and follow up on them.

Checklist:

 

Date/Ref

Comments

Done

Agenda

 

 

 

Priorities

 

 

 

Outcomes

 

 

 

Sequence

 

 

 

Timings

 

 

 

Attendees

 

 

 

Date

 

 

 

Time

 

 

 

Venue

 

 

 

Variety

 

 

 

Notification

 

 

 

Notes of last meeting

 

 

 

Directions/map

 

 

 

Materials (as required by agenda items)

 

 

 

Reference material for ad-hoc queries

 

 

 

Results and performance data

 

 

 

Equipment (make separate check-list)

 

 

 

Electrical Power (if applicable)

 

 

 

Catering arrangements

 

 

 

Stationery

 

 

 

Refreshments

 

 

 

Guest care/instructions

 

 

 



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Date
Attendees
Duration
Full day
09:00 - 17:00
AM 09:00 - 12:30

PM 13:30 - 17:00
Eve 17:30 - 20:30
Room layout
Boardroom Board
Theatre Theatre
U-Shape U-Shape
Circle of Chairs Circle