Meetings are often considered a necessary evil. They can take up a tremendous amount of time and consume valuable resources. But, when managed properly, they can be an extremely effective tool for saving time and resources.
What Is A Meeting Plan?
The most important ingredient to a successful meeting is a clear meeting plan. They also happen to be the most overlooked. Meeting plans play the critical role of helping you plan and prepare for successful meetings. A meeting plan is really just a template to help you prepare effectively for a meeting.
Why Create A Meeting Plan?
Whether as a work unit or as an individual, planning your meetings in advance will help you achieve positive results. The benefits of a meeting plan include:
- Increased focus.
- Better participation from meeting participants.
- More efficient use of limited time.
- Clearer understanding of what to expect.
- Clearer understanding of what to prepare for.
A good meeting plan should help you answer the following key questions:
- Why are we meeting?
- What will we accomplish?
- How will we structure the meeting?
- What needs to be in place to have a successful meeting?
To answer these questions, a meeting plan should contain four key parts:
- Meeting Purpose
- Meeting Outcomes
- Meeting Agenda
- Meeting Requirements
1. Meeting Purpose
A clearly defined purpose will help members know why the meeting is important. It will also help them come to the meeting prepared, knowing how they can best contribute. The meeting purpose answers two basic questions: Why are we meeting? How will the meeting benefit the organization or team?
2. Meeting Outcomes
The outcomes are the tangible results you expect from the meeting. After the meeting they become your checklist to determine whether the meeting was productive. In defining meeting outcomes, you should be able to answer the following questions: What outcomes will we achieve in this meeting? Are these outcomes in line with our purpose? Are these outcomes realistic?
Meeting outcomes can include such things as decisions, ideas, plans, new skills, shared knowledge, new goals, clear roles, or coordinated work.
3. Meeting Agenda
The meeting agenda is the roadmap to meeting success. It spells out how the team will achieve the meeting outcomes. The agenda should help each team member know how to best prepare for and contribute to the meeting.
The key parts of an agenda include:
- Items or Topics–This communicates the steps that will be taken
in the meeting. These should be written in the form of a verb.
- Time–This communicates how much time during the meeting
will be spent on each item.
- Who–This communicates who will be responsible for each item.
4. Meeting Requirements
Achieving meeting success requires that certain things be in place prior to the meeting. There may be steps you must take to prepare (e.g. arrange the room, make handouts, send out agenda). There may also be conditions that must be met in order for the meeting to be a success (e.g. the right people will attend, everyone agrees to arrive on
time, key information is ready). Meeting participants may also have pre-work. They may be required to bring certain information, prepare their thoughts on a given issue, or do some pre-reading. Defining meeting requirements helps each participant answer the following questions: What conditions must be in place to have a successful meeting? What steps need to be taken to prepare for the meeting?