Effectiveness is so much more than just the buzzword of the day. And it’s particularly important in the context of meetings. If they’re not effective, they become a waste of time – yours and everybody else’s. Everyone leaves the meeting with a sense of disappointment and disgruntlement. The next meeting invitation goes out and people reluctantly accept in the knowledge it’s unlikely to achieve anything.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Preparation – with a touch of flexibility – is the key to success. And meetings are no different. Web meeting effectiveness goes well beyond the allocated time of the actual meeting, so it’s a good idea to schedule some preparation time in the days and weeks before your next one.
We’ve put together a list of useful tips to help you ensure nobody goes away from your meeting thinking their time could have been better spent. Some may seem obvious, but we find it’s really helpful to keep a prep list to hand to check off ahead of time. Here we go:
List all desired outcomes in order of priority
Before you do anything else, it’s best to work out what you would like to get out of the meeting. Ask yourself: What do you want to achieve? What is the overall aim of the meeting? List all the outcomes in descending order of importance and write them at the very top of your document. Allow your overall aim to guide your preparation.
Create a clear meeting structure
Your next concern is to break this overall aim down. How are you going to achieve it? Split the aim into key sections, specifying what you need to understand/discuss in order to achieve it. Your priority list of desired outcomes will come in handy here for helping you structure the meeting. Start with the most important aspects, but prepared to be flexible if it improves the structure.
Ensure the meeting has a logical flow
Think of the meeting flow as a user journey through your service or product. Make sure topics follow one another in a way that makes sense. For example, marketing is likely to follow sales.
Assign time limits for each agenda item
Each agenda item should be given an appropriate length of time. The more valuable points should have a larger percentage of time, while the less significant ones should have less time. This helps keep the meeting on track and ensures important agenda points are not missed because you’ve run out of time.
Provide a list of expected documents or screen-sharing activities in advance
Ensure your attendees have access to the documentation prior to the meeting. Part of their preparation is to familiarise themselves with the documents. This makes your presentation straightforward.
List all the attendees
Draw up a list that notes every attendee you expect to attend. Understand why you want *them* in a meeting. Use your list as a type of classroom register and ask yourself: Are you inviting people who don’t necessarily need to be there? Why?
Group attendees by responsibility within the meeting
Now you can begin to group your attendees into roles and responsibilities within the larger organisation. You can group them by responsibility, sector or job title, such as team leader or marketing department. You can then use these groups to split the meeting up into different sections, creating a clearer structure for the meeting.
Clearly brief and list each presenter
With Drum, you can promote web meeting attendees to become a presenter within the meeting. And, of course, there may be times when you need to make an attendee a presenter on an ad hoc basis. But it’s still a good idea to brief your primary presenters prior to the meeting with the agendas you expect a presentation on, as well as to provide attendees with a list of who’s presenting when you send out the overview.
Find out whether everyone can make it
This is one of the trickiest aspects of arranging a meeting. Can everyone attend? Always provide three different date and time options for attendees to choose from. It’s unlikely that everyone will be able to make all of them. But this way, you will be able to identify the most popular time/date. And, don’t forget, ensure the most important people can make it!
Schedule the meeting for five minutes before the expected start time
Provide your meeting attendees with enough time to prepare before the meeting kicks off. Ask them to enter the meeting five minutes before you want it to start.
Send clear guidelines on accessing the meeting
Send some clear basic instructions on how to join the meeting. Each solution varies and comes with its own set of requirements. Although Drum requires no downloads, users will still need to be guided to the unique URL created for the meeting. They will also have to be using a WebRTC-enabled browser if they want to use their computers (or android device) to join the audio conference.
Share this information with everyone
Finally, and most importantly, share all of this information with your meeting attendees. Part of your preparation is to ensure that your meeting attendees are equally well prepared.
Phew! Now you can go ahead and host your meeting! Experience how much more effective your meetings become when you set some time aside to prepare.