Meeting Success Happens Before the Meeting Starts

How planning and preparing for your meeting can make it productive before it even begins.

At the end of each workday, many leave the office or shut down their laptops thinking, “What did I accomplish today” or “Was I productive enough?” One thing that can cut into how productive someone was that day is meetings. Yes, they are absolutely 100% needed; they are where we share ideas, collaborate, make decisions and come together as a group to update one another on the many things our teams juggle on a daily basis. What is not needed is a meeting where time is wasted because of preventable reasons.

I have to admit, it can be great to hear the leader of a meeting tell attendees that the agenda was completed and that we’re able to end early, and usually is a representation of the productiveness of the meeting.

It’s estimated that over 11 million business meetings take place daily and can take up 37% of an average employee’s working hours. If the meeting has action items and positive outcomes, it’s time well spent but if the meeting was partially absorbed by trying to restart a laptop or waiting for latecomers, it’s wasted time and money.

We’ve done a lot to make sure our meetings are productive before they start and the time of our teams-both internal and our volunteers-is respected and used well.

Agendas are circulated before the meeting, asking for feedback or additional items that need to be addressed. This cuts down on time being added at the end of the meeting for unplanned discussions and missed opportunities to go over topics that are important to someone on the team.

Be connected. Send out the dial-in information and login information if it applies ahead of the meeting so you aren’t bombarded with emails asking for it as you’re trying to get set up. If possible, use the same information each time so it can easily be added to the reoccurring appointment.

Test your tech. All of our rooms are “smart rooms,” equipped with both audio and visual equipment, making participation easy for anyone from wherever they are. There are step-by-step manuals in each room explaining how to set everything up from a personal device or by using the equipment in the room too. If something is being presented or anyone needs to dial-in, we do a test run at least 15 minutes prior to starting to ensure everything is ready and that if there is a hiccup, we can engage our tech team to help us out.

Sometimes you need backup. Things happen-the power goes out, a circuit blows, the telephone line goes dead-no matter how early you arrive to prep for your meeting, there are some things that are just out of your control. Have a plan b if and when possible, even if that means resorting to the good-old-fashion use of handouts.

Beginning a meeting in an organized way can prevent it from getting off course, while discouraging attendees to catch-up on their social media news feed. For more meeting productivity ideas and information, check out our blog on what makes a meeting successful.