What makes a good meeting?
We all know when we’ve been in a good meeting. We come to it knowing what to expect; it’s well-run and managed; we know what our actions are at the end, and we may even have organised the next one so there’s a deadline for progress. It shouldn’t be complicated to arrange a good meeting, but it can be time-consuming, which is why many companies use a meeting organiser to handle the administration and even running the meeting on the day. Here are some things that your planner will consider:
Internal or external?
There are different criteria for meetings that involve just internal people and for those where people are coming into your offices, or you are meeting them elsewhere. Internal meetings need to be just as organised and productive – and in some cases this can be harder to achieve, because people are often less worried about being late, about not attending at all or about their contribution. For internal meetings, the first step is to see whether you need the meeting at all. Many issues can be sorted by email, or by two people rather than 20. If you can reduce your internal meetings, or keep them short and sweet, you’ll be freeing up more of your colleagues’ time to spend on the really important stuff.
For those internal meetings where people are working at different sites or in different countries, virtual meetings work best. Using conference calling or video calling, you can have everyone together at the same time without the need for expensive travel. A good virtual meeting relies on technology though, so make sure you have a system and connections that are as high quality as possible, so you can conduct the meeting smoothly.
Why are you meeting?
A good meetings planner will always start by asking what the meeting is for. It’s important to have clear objectives and reasons for meeting. On some occasions – for a Board meeting, for example, or a shareholders meeting, there will be a very clear and recurring reason for meeting. But for others, it’s essential to know why the meeting is needed, and what you want the outcomes to be. This helps with planning, because it means you only need to invite the essential people, and you can tell them in advance what the meeting is about and what they can expect.
Invite the right people
If you are hosting the meeting, make sure you ask your meeting manager to invite the right people. These may be the people who absolutely need to contribute to a decision-making process, or they might be the people who will have to put the plan into action. If your meeting is to wrap up a project, you will need all the relevant project people involved. Try to keep numbers to a reasonable level – managers can attend your meeting, for example, and then feed back to their teams.
For meetings where there is a lot to get through, you don’t want to waste time while people read documents. Instead, professional meeting planners would suggest that essential information is distributed well before the meeting, allowing participants to read and digest the documents, so they can have informed opinions and contribute sensibly to any debate. This will help to make the meeting itself far more productive.
Attending the meeting is all very well, but it’s the actions and follow-ups resulting from the meeting that will make the difference. For external meetings, it’s particularly important that you meet the commitments you made, and that other participants do too. A representative from the meeting planning company may have sat in on the meeting to take minutes, or record actions, and they can then contact all the participants to confirm those actions, together with deadlines and the relevant people involved. This means that not only is everyone prepared for your meeting and focused during it; they are also aware of their responsibilities arising from it and can get on with the things they need to do.
Getting some help from a business meeting planner means you can leave everything to them – from room bookings to producing agendas and sending out meeting packs. They can give you background on the people you are meeting with, help you to follow up, and make sure everything runs as efficiently as possible. As part of a wider service, they can even help with travel and accommodation for conferences, larger meetings, away days and more.
If you’re short on time, or would like to run more productive meetings, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.