How to plan a successful meeting

Love them or hate them, meetings are a vital part of business. They ensure that communication flows, ideas are brainstormed, people get their say, and decisions are made.

But we’ve all been in a badly managed meeting – it’s poorly timed, starts late, goes hopelessly off-topic, runs over time and nothing happens afterwards.

To save you, and anyone with the misfortune to be invited to it, the pain of enduring any more meetings like this, we’ve put together some simple tips to help you plan a successful meeting.

Choose your meeting location wisely

If you’re all in the same building or area of the city, picking your meeting location is relatively easy. But what if you need to have a face-to-face meeting and your attendees are spread across the country – or even several countries? How do you decide where to hold it?

One deciding factor may be your clients; if you want to keep important clients happy, then they won’t thank you for dragging them long distance for a meeting. In these circumstances, the ‘easiest’ solution is to travel to them.

But what if they’re not on an easily accessible transport link? Or you can’t spare the time to deal with public transport, or can’t rely on them to get you there on time? One solution could be using a private jet like Vistajet. Not just for millionaires, today private jet travel is much more affordable and easily accessible.

Decide on an agenda

it’s important to plan your meeting carefully, with a clear agenda that everyone can read in advance. This way everyone will come prepared with the documents, research, thoughts and decisions required to count the meeting as a success – and keep it to schedule.

An agenda doesn’t need to be highly detailed or time-consuming to prepare; just a set of simple bullet points to discuss should be enough. Make sure it’s distributed to all attendees far enough in advance to allow them time to prepare.

Start and end of time

There are few things more frustrating than making time in a packed schedule for a meeting, and turning up on time, only to have to sit and wait for the meeting to start late. Equally, sitting in a meeting that has veered off topic and over-run can ruin an otherwise carefully planned day – and leave people feeling resentful.

So if you plan a meeting, respect the people who are attending it and make sure a meeting starts and ends on time.

If you’re chairing the meeting and can see you’re not making enough progress through the agenda to finish on time, it’s worth letting everyone know, so you can either decide to continue the meeting over the proposed end time, arrange another meeting to cover points you don’t get to, or speed up.

Avoid distractions

One of the key reasons meetings run over on time is that people have become distracted, and the meeting keeps veering off-topic. So try to stick to the agenda as firmly as possible, and leave all other conversations for after the meeting. It’s also good practice to turn off mobile phones and avoid eating and drinking (apart from water).

Always follow up

A meeting is pointless unless the information discussed is followed up and finalised. So make sure someone makes detailed notes during the meeting, and sends round a follow-up email with each person’s roles and responsibilities to action afterwards.

Photo by The Journal Garden