The key to planning a successful meeting hinges on a single point: satisfy goals that produce results. A meeting that does not satisfy goals or produce results is pointless. Follow these three meeting planning tips, and you are on your way to having a successful meeting.
Why are we meeting?
Every meeting, no matter how big or small, should have a purpose. Goals for every meeting should be SMART:
- Specific – Goals must be specific and clearly defined. A specific goal addresses the what, why, and how of the goal.
- Measurable– Goals must be measurable. This creates a gauge to measure the status of the goal.
- Attainable – Goals must be attainable and achievable. Goals that are set too far out of reach are less likely to be achieved.
- Realistic – Goals must be realistic. The expectations and time restraints must be realistic for completing the goal.
- Timely – Goals must be time-based or within a specific time-frame. A goal without an end point has no sense of urgency.
An example of a SMART goal is: Attendees will incorporate learner objectives from the Sales and Marketing session, to increase first quarter sales by 10%.
Keep in mind not to overwhelm meeting attendees with too many goals. Limit the number of SMART goals to no more than three. Also, make sure the goals and related information can be thoroughly covered in the allotted meeting time.
Who is meeting?
It is important to know who is attending the meeting. Are all the attendees from the same department? Does everyone use the same lingo? Make sure the meeting content is consistent with the attendees’ level of knowledge. Nothing diminishes the success of a meeting quicker than having content attendees do not understand.
Limit the number of attendees to those essential to accomplishing the goal. Ensure these attendees are present for the duration of the meeting. If key attendees are not available, or unable to attend the entire meeting, you may want to reschedule the meeting.
How are we meeting?
Planning a meeting is about providing an environment that is conducive to learning. Not only is the attendee’s physical comfort addressed, the physical space of the meeting room is addressed also. The physical space of the room should be consistent with how the content is delivered. Knowing which situations call for certain room setups is crucial to a meeting’s success. Here are 5 common meeting room setups:
- Schoolroom Style: Tables and chairs are placed in standard seating rows facing the speaker or focal point in the room. This setup is ideal for note taking and long meeting sessions.
- Crescent Shape: A table with no chairs on the table side that is closest to the speaker. This setup is ideal for presentations where both classroom seating and small group interaction must take place.
- U-Shape: Tables are configured in a U-shape. Seating is generally on the exterior of the “U”; however, it is possible to seat attendees on both inside legs of the “U.” Committee or breakouts meetings/sessions often use this design when audiovisuals are involved.
- Theater Style: Chairs are lined up in rows facing the speaker or focal point in the room. There is no writing surface or area for handout materials (i.e., movie theaters are setup in this fashion).
- Conference: Conference style essentially means a table where attendees are seated on all four sides. This style is designed to encourage dialogue between participants.
Most people underestimate a meeting planner’s job. Bringing people together to drive new business opportunities is important, as well as, a daunting task. By no means are the points covered in this article a complete list of considerations for planning a meeting. This article illustrates that no matter the goal or size of a meeting, there is a method to its success. Follow these meeting planning tips, and you are on your way to having a successful meeting.
What meeting planning tips/suggestions have helped you the most?
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