Meetings are part and parcel of business life. And properly planned and run, they can produce clear outcomes, targeted actions and move things forward. Poorly planned meetings, however, can be a waste of everyone’s time and have a negative effect on relationships both inside the business and with clients or suppliers. So here is our virtual assistant diary organiser’s expert advice on how to organise business meetings that work.
1. Know why you need a meeting
This might seem obvious, but every meeting should have a purpose. And it should be a purpose that’s best achieved by a meeting rather than a phone call, a video call or an email. Where there are more productive ways to achieve your outcome, don’t discount them. Once you’re sure a meeting is the most efficient way to get things done, move onto the next step.
2. Decide who needs to be there
Because you know what outcomes you want from your meeting, you can work out who really needs to be there. Do you need decision-makers? Should you involve someone with particular expertise? Do you need someone to manage financial questions? Should external advisers be involved? Everyone needs to have a good reason to be in the room.
3. Who will run the meeting?
As any experienced executive virtual assistant will tell you, someone needs to run the meeting. This means keeping to the agenda, making sure everyone in the room has an opportunity to speak, and getting to the required outcomes at the end. Your meeting may already have a natural chairperson among the attendees, but if not, appoint someone who is organised and will steer the meeting properly.
4. Have an agenda
Planning an agenda that covers all the relevant issues is a critical part of organising a good meeting. Circulated in advance, so that people have time to plan and gather information, a good virtual personal assistant will make sure that the agenda is clear and that anyone who needs to present or speak at the meeting has time to prepare.
5. Organise date, time and venue
This might seem straightforward, but if your meeting involves people from different locations, you need to find a venue that’s easy for people to get to and make sure the date and time is flagged with all attendees’ diary planner or virtual assistant. Once you have had responses from everyone invited, you can send out any papers or pre-reading needed.
6. Keep to time
When you get to the meeting itself, you should make sure that it runs to time, and even finishes slightly early if you can. That means that attendees feel that progress is being made, decisions or actions are being encouraged and that the meeting doesn’t take up more time than expected. You can do this by putting timings to your agenda and by referring to the agenda and the time as you go through the meeting, keeping people focused on getting things done.
7. Follow up quickly
Meetings are still minuted – sometimes because it’s part of the constitution or business processes. So it’s important to write up and distribute the minutes as soon as possible. This can be done by a nominated ‘secretary’ of the meeting or by an office virtual assistant who can sit in on the meeting to take notes. Circulating the minutes will also make people aware of the actions they are committed to, future dates to be aware of and anything that needs resolving before further action can take place.
These principles apply whether you are arranging a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting. Any virtual assistant diary organiser will tell you that the meetings that have the best outcomes are the meetings that are well organised, properly prepared and quickly followed up.
If you’re short on time and need help with diary planning or meeting organisation, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.
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