Preparation and Planning Is Key to Leading Productive Business Meetings


Being prepared and conducting proper planning shows that you value people’s time.

Being responsible for organizing a business meeting can be overwhelming for even the most experienced leaders. We have all attended purposeless meetings with no desired outcome or meetings that failed to produce anything of value for the organization.

There are so many things that are out of your control and so many things to consider. However, with the right amount of planning and preparation, leading effective meetings can be nearly stress-free.

There are several critical factors to consider, including but not limited to selecting a venue, setting the start and end time, inviting the appropriate attendees, preparing an agenda and deciding on the deliverables. There are other things that are important to leading a successful meeting, but I believe the aforementioned are most crucial to success.

1. Venue

Select a suitable place to conduct the meeting and send out announcements to all attendees. Ensure the venue has enough space to host everyone and that the venue is reserved. Consult your IT team early on if tech support is required.

2. Start and End Time

This is extremely important. Schedule the meeting during an hour when optimal attendance can be achieved. Start the meeting and end the meeting on time. Show up 30 minutes early to ensure the venue is properly set up.

3. Attendees

Invite the appropriate attendees to the meeting via official correspondence. If you require executives, senior leaders or decision makers to be present, check with their executive assistants for their availability. Send out read-ahead material for the meeting so attendees show up prepared.

4. Agenda

Assemble an agenda that includes the purpose of the meeting, milestones, as well as who specifically will be responsible for deliverables for the project. Steer the meeting toward the desired end state.

5. Deliverables

Close the meeting out by recounting what took place during the meeting and what is expected to be delivered between now and the next meeting. Allow attendees to provide any additional feedback or input they may have. Announce when the next meeting will be held and thank attendees for their participation.

Be prepared for the unexpected. If resources allow, print out copies of presentations just in case the audio-visual equipment doesn’t work. Log into or sign on to video services and conduct communications checks to ensure connectivity prior to the meeting. If you are leading a meeting remotely, make sure you are properly attired and you have a backup plan if you lose connectivity. Be cognizant of your behavior even if you think you’re off camera and/or muted. Conduct yourself like you are on camera and unmuted at all times.

Lastly, make sure you are well versed on all subjects that will be covered during the meeting. Talk to team members to get updates, changes and their concerns prior to the meeting. Learn about things that your teammates are responsible for. When the meeting ends, there should be as clear and concise a way forward for the project as possible.

The methods and routine above have helped me immensely during my career in the military, and in business. I learned early on in life to value and respect people’s time. Being prepared and conducting proper planning allows you to do that when leading meetings. Next time you are tapped to lead a business meeting, use the above tips to achieve a positive outcome and relieve some of the stress associated with it.

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