Preparation is everything, especially with meetings. Nothing can spoil the mood as much as a badly prepared meeting. So what are the pro-tips for a killer preparation?
1. Define the Purpose and Objective
The most overlooked aspect of meetings is the purpose and objective of the meeting. The purpose is about what the meeting will contribute to the goals of the organization and the objective is what specifically you want to achieve with the meeting. These two need to be crystal clear. If you can’t come up with good descriptions, don’t organize a meeting at all. If you are using Yabbu for your meetings, you are already familiar with this.
2. Create a clear (online) Structure
The agenda is too often nothing more than a numbered list with titles. This means per definition that invitees could only have a vague idea about what to expect. The best way to build an agenda is to make it “active”. This means, next to a descriptive title, phrasing a clear sentence to explain why the item is part of the agenda and what is the desired outcome. Create ownership by assigning a lead person and asking this person to share relevant information, opinions and arguments in advance. Don’t add documents to impress. Be precise about what information is required to be able to make well-considered decisions.
To do this well, it may be worth it to agree on some meeting protocols. An easy one could be to use a tool that provides those protocols and make you do it easily and automatically right. Email just doesn’t provide the structure and overview you need to prepare well.
3. Choose the right Participants
If you offer a clear online structure in the preparation phase, people we won’t add to the discussion can inform themselves walking through the available trail. You can even ask them to provide some information or opinion on the trail prior to the meeting. If you expect someone to not take part in the main discussion, most likely they need not attend the meeting itself. Use other means to keep them informed. A clear online structure in the preparation phase also allows invitees to contribute, in case they are unable to attend. Their say will be valued and included in the decision-making. This ensures ownership of decisions taken and follow-up actions.
4. Start prior to the meeting
The meeting preparation doesn’t end with a proper invite. Connect with people and engage them before the meeting, not when people enter the room or video conference. If you agreed on a meeting tool providing the right communication structure anyway, then why not stimulate invitees to start processing the agenda in advance? This is an extremely valuable part of good preparation. Try to get all the relevant information, viewpoints and arguments on the table well before. No surprises. No pressure. People can sleep on it. Structure their thoughts. And most importantly, support a decision they initially wouldn’t make, because they’ve been part of a neat and careful process.
5. Close agenda items in advance
One of our favourite tips is the possibility to close agenda items before the meeting, in addition to starting prior to the meeting. The idea is that in every meeting there will be informative and administrative items, and simple decisions you shouldn’t and need not dwell on for long. Why not handle and close these items in your own time, if you use a proper tool for it anyway? Of course, your meetings will become shorter and now you finally have the time required to get that important decision from your meeting!
Think of your meeting as a game. Connect with people, pull the right people in and get them intrigued by a clear purpose, objective, and structure. It will be so much easier to perform well and create an engaging final scene that inspires action and positive feelings.