How to Prepare and Follow-Up Effective Meetings

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Here are a dozen tips on how to make your meetings more effective. Follow these guidelines during the preparation and follow-up, so your team can focus in the meeting.

In a project kick-off meeting for our new SaaS solution, we had to focus and align the developers on the work for the next quarter. We prepared by reviewing and summarizing a long list of project documentation and conducting internal discussions upfront. We introduced the project during the meeting, defined its scope, and discussed timelines and roles. We encouraged active participation, addressed concerns, and identified potential risks. We shared the meeting minutes promptly to ensure clarity and accountability. The kick-off meeting set a strong foundation for the project and fostered motivation and collaboration within the team. There were many unforeseen challenges, but the kick-off meeting helped us to get cracking quickly.

We followed the following guidelines, making conveying critical information more accessible during the meeting.

Meeting Preparation

  • Define the Objective: Clarify the purpose of the meeting and set clear objectives. Identify what needs you want to accomplish and why the meeting is necessary.
  • Develop an Agenda: Create a detailed agenda outlining the topics you want to be discussed and time allocations for each item. Share the agenda with participants in advance, allowing them to prepare and contribute effectively.
  • Research and Gather Information: Gather all the necessary information, data, and materials related to the meeting topics. Conduct research, review reports, and collect any relevant documents that will facilitate productive discussions.
  • Identify Key Participants: Determine who needs to be present in the meeting to achieve the objectives. Invite the right people who can contribute, make decisions, or provide valuable insights.
  • Share Pre-Reading Material: If there are specific documents or reports that participants should read before the meeting, share them in advance. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can engage in informed discussions.
  • Set a Realistic Timeframe: Allocate sufficient time for the meeting, considering the agenda and the complexity of the topics. Avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings, allowing breaks and buffer time to wrap up discussions.
  • Prepare Presentation or Visual Aids: If you need to present information or data during the meeting, prepare slides, visuals, or other aids to enhance understanding and engagement.

Meeting Follow-up

  • Send Meeting Minutes: Prepare and distribute meeting minutes or presentation slides summarizing the key points discussed, decisions made, and assigned action items. Ensure the minutes are concise and sent promptly after the meeting.
  • Review and Implement Action Items: Follow up on action items assigned during the meeting. Assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and track progress to ensure tasks are completed effectively.
  • Seek Feedback: Encourage participants to provide feedback on the meeting process, structure, and outcomes. Gather suggestions for improvement to enhance future meetings.
  • Communicate Next Steps: Share information about any next steps or follow-up actions that arise from the meeting. Communicate responsibilities and expectations to ensure everyone is aware of the ongoing process.
  • Maintain Communication: Stay in touch with participants after the meeting, especially if some ongoing projects or tasks require coordination. Provide updates, address concerns, and foster continuous collaboration.

By implementing these guidelines, you can increase the effectiveness of your meetings and make sure to contribute to your organization’s goals.

Only some meetings require all of the points from above, many times a subset is entirely sufficient. The more attendees and the longer the meeting is, the more effort is necessary before and after to make the meeting effective. Meeting software tools like Visavys can help you collect information and to have a central place to collaborate with your team.