Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.Benjamin Franklin
The majority of us are aware of how important preparation is, but we lack knowledge regarding how to prepare. Preparation is essential; whether it’s for everyday meal preparation, school exams, planning a family gathering or a business event. No matter how simple or difficult the task at hand may be, without careful planning, we can never succeed in achieving our goals. When we succeed in achieving our goals, we are on the road to success.
Thanks to advances in technology, these preparations can now be coordinated and overseen through in-person or even virtual meetings. Even these meetings are no exception, and they are only fruitful when rigorous preparation is undertaken.
Why Meetings are important?
Meetings are viewed as opportunities in today’s fast-paced, ambitious environment to optimize knowledge sharing, discuss ideas and feedback, raise issues, review progress, allocate resources, put forward points of view, align and decide, and at times celebrate milestones reached. According to one survey, 90% of world leaders struggle with decision-making due to a lack of preparation. Meetings involve valuable time and energy of all participants.
A meeting has numerous interconnected phases from beginning to end. If any of the phases fails to deliver, the meeting’s purpose is weakened. A meeting’s goal is not always to get a ‘YES,’ but it is also expected to end with a ‘NO.’ These are crucial decisions that have an influence on both company and people, thus considerable preparation is required ahead of time to ensure an informed decision is made. Discussions in meetings boost energy levels, encourage collaboration and improve culture in an organization or in a social context. Meetings not only bridge gaps or improve relationships, but they also have an impact on each member present. Some people learn while others have the opportunity to share and coach. Whether the meeting is between two people or a bigger group, whether it is at a corporate level or in a social environment, the benefits are the same, and enough preparation is essential to produce great results.
How to prepare for a meeting?
Meeting preparation does not have to be a difficult task. It requires a well-structured framework.
TIWIW has compiled a list of easy guidelines divided into three phases for running an effective meeting.
1. Prior to the meeting:
“A great meeting starts before the meeting. The better you prepare for the meeting the better your meeting will turn out”
It is advisable to conclude these steps in advance of the meeting so that there is ample time for both organizer and participants to be fully ready.
- Set the Goals.
- Develop clear agenda and who is leading each agenda topic.
- Identify attendees, inform them and confirm the availability of all attendees.
- Identify obstacles and find ways to minimize them.
- Share material if any preparation is needed by attendees.
- Send a reminder closer to the meeting.
- Identify and assign key roles for attendees to perform during the meeting (presenter, timekeeper, noting down minutes, etc).
- Book a meeting room for offline meetings.
The organizer is primarily responsible for the aforementioned steps. Participants should, however, contribute effectively by raising any queries, clarifying any uncertainties, or giving suggestions prior to the meeting.
2. During the meeting
During the meeting, the organizer along with key pre-assigned stakeholders plays a critical role in managing the agenda, influencing discussions, managing time, and concluding the meeting to deliver on its objectives.
- Prepare the meeting room if it is an offline meeting.
- Share the agenda in the beginning together with the objective
- Keep time checked.
- Step in if discussion points are drifting from the agenda topics.
- Maintain a relaxed environment.
- Allow and encourage participation by all attendees.
- Include Q&A.
- Include breaks if the meeting duration is longer.
- Note down key discussion points and action steps.
- Summarize key takeaways and align on actions at the end.
- If agenda topics are not covered for valid reasons, make provision for next steps by scheduling the next meeting date with everyone’s confirmation.
- Record the meeting for an online meeting with approval from all attendees to share with absentees.
3. After the meeting
The physical conclusion of a meeting does not imply that no action is required. To bring a meeting to a logical conclusion, several actions must be taken.
- Circulate meeting minutes.
- Collect feedback and suggestions.
- Follow up on action points.
To summarize, a great meeting outcome can be achieved through simple steps of preparation. It is not just about preparing slides, present them and get done with it. It is about developing a structure around the desired outcomes of the meeting, informing and getting the people involved ready and running the meeting productively.
Working smarter means spending less time on unnecessary or ineffective activities. It can lead to increased employee well-being because people tend to believe they are not wasting time and energy on ineffective activities.
Follow these Simple Structured tips, work Smartly and reap Success!