Meetings Are All About Preparation

Meeting preparation should not be underestimated. We break it down into bite-sized pieces in this article.

Meetings Are All About Preparation

We all know we have to have meetings, but why do we hate them so much?

They are a fundamental part of business operations that can help create a productive and collaborative working environment.

Everyone hates the idea of unorganized meetings; they just waste valuable time. A recent survey shows that 35% of employees waste 2 to 5 hours a day just on meetings and 67% of employees complain that spending too much time in meetings hinders their productivity at work. It’s also common, regardless of the size of the company, for people in upper management to spend more time in meetings, which ends up costing the company.

It goes without saying, however, that meetings don’t run themselves. They require proper preparation and planning to be productive: some level of preparation is essential for most successful meetings.

Why it’s important to prepare before meeting

Let’s go over the basics.

Preparation for meetings, like preparation for anything else, is essential because it clarifies the meeting’s purpose, what will be discussed, who is participating, what they are expected to contribute, etc.

For individual participants, this means understanding the reason for the meeting and then doing the necessary homework needed to prepare.

As a result of doing these kinds of preparation, meetings will be time-efficient as well as more productive, and productive meetings lead the team and the company to excellence.

But, you might ask, “What does meeting preparation consist of practically?” Here are some important aspects you should be aware of.

Determine the type of meeting

There are various types of meetings that are commonly held and, for the most part, they each require a different mindset. For instance, in the case of an informational meeting, the participants come with the expectation to hear new updates and then present their feedback afterward. However, in a problem-solving meeting, the participants are already aware of the problem and they are expected to come with their own opinions, ideas and solutions to present or discuss.

So, the first and simplest step of effective preparation is to understand the nature of the meeting.

Identifying the participants

As the meeting organizer, selecting the participants is another key part of preparation. Who to invite to the meeting determines not only the size of the meeting, but also its quality in general. You definitely want diverse opinions from different participants, but you wouldn’t want the meeting to grow beyond a certain size. The more people there are in the meeting, the less chance everyone has to say what they need, which is not only unproductive but frustrating. It also wastes everyone’s time. This can be disastrous if it’s a decision-making meeting.

Even if you are not the meeting organizer, checking the participants is helpful because you can better plan your role as well as be prepared with what you want to know based on the other members of the meeting.

Share the agenda before meeting

Generally speaking, the agenda of the meeting should be shared with participants within a minimum of 24 hours, and ideally 48 hours before. But, how much leeway you have depends on how much preparation is needed for each participant before the meeting. The meeting’s organizer is responsible for the agenda and needs to share it in time because without it, the lack of individual preparation will result in poor productivity.

Time allocation

It is also crucial that all participants come prepared with a rough understanding of the time needed for each topic in the agenda so the meeting can go as planned.

If the members keep a realistic allocation of time in mind from the agenda stage, not only will the meeting be productive, but members’ satisfaction will increase if everyone makes an effort to stick to it as much as possible. Remember, however, that there is no need to seek perfection in the beginning. Time allocation should be used as a guideline, and be modified accordingly depending on the situation. The goal here is to get participants to have a sense of topic-based time allocation so that the meeting won’t go sideways.

Set the meeting etiquette

Meeting etiquette usually refers to the ground rules of a meeting, such as the meeting’s tone, the use of gadgets, eating during the meeting, where to sit, etc. With the recent increase in remote work due to Covid-19, there is an even greater need to set online etiquette and rules specifically. For example, should the participants’ video always be on? Should the microphone always be set to mute? Is there any specific wallpaper participants are expected to set up?

These etiquette and rules vary depending on the culture of the company as well as the type of the meeting, so it is important to set them accordingly and share them with the agenda when needed.

Assign Roles to Participants

The process of assigning roles to participants in the meeting will help them be aware of what’s expected and motivate them to contribute. Some of the roles include the following:

  • Facilitator: Leading and guiding the meeting
  • Scribe: Responsible for record-keeping and taking notes
  • Timekeeper: In charge of time management
  • Expert: Expected to share knowledge on a particular domain or topic

The bottom line is that it cannot be overstated that preparation determines the success of the meeting. With these simple tips, you can improve your meetings and create a greater sense of satisfaction for your teams.