When planning an event, you’re going to need to work with a range of stakeholders, whether that’s your own team, speakers, providers of catering or other services, venue staff, and so on.
Once you’ve developed your understanding of the timeline and critical path analysis to make your event a reality, you should consider who you should meet with, how regular these meetings should be, and when to have them.
It’s normal for meeting duration/frequency to change throughout event planning – you’ll probably find you need to talk about a lot at the start and in the days leading up to the event. You should try to be clear about your expectations from the outset to make sure that everyone understands what’s required from them and the rest of the group.
Making the Most of your Meetings
Once you’ve got an understanding of when and how often to meet, there are a few key tips to make the most out of the opportunity:
Try to ensure all the decision makers will be there
By making sure that you have decision-makers in a meeting, you will be able to best discuss any choices that need to be made. This will normally mean that you can reach a decision sooner and with a better shared understanding of one-another’s views.
Some decisions will need to take place outside of a meeting and it’s important to find the right balance for this. We recommend that from the outset, the group agrees on the level of each person’s authority to make decisions individually: if you have a member responsible for booking catering, for instance, the group should probably give an indication of requirements and budget, but allow the individual member to then take care of the bookings and any related questions.
Know what you want to achieve with the meeting
Nobody likes meetings for the sake of it, and without a clear, shared understanding of a meeting’s purpose, some members may not be able to prepare fully or share ideas that are relevant. You should always set a meeting’s target in advance – either in writing, in person, or by setting an agenda.
Set a start and finish time for the meeting
By setting the time of a meeting, you give the team an understanding of how much needs to be discussed and how long they will be needed for. If you don’t set a finish time, you may find that some members need to leave half-way through, which can be disruptive and affect the quality of the rest of the meeting.
Set out an agenda for the meeting
An agenda is a list of everything to be discussed in the meeting, and in what order. This should be circulated in writing in advance of a meeting, but doesn’t necessarily have to be extensive. It is important, though, that the meeting’s members know when they should bring up particular topics/ideas, and by setting an agenda you can structure the meeting to help address all the topics that you need to.
Identify a chairperson
A Chairperson is someone responsible for leading the meeting. They should help to structure the discussion, ensure that the meeting does not run over-time, and ensure that every member has the opportunity to contribute.
Depending on your group, it may be appropriate to agree a single Chairperson, or perhaps a different Chairperson for each meeting.
Identify a Secretary
A Secretary is responsible for administering a meeting. This normally includes: setting the dates/times for each meeting, circulating the agenda and any paperwork, taking a note of key points, and taking a note of actions arising from each meeting that need to be followed up.
Depending on your group, it may be appropriate to agree a single Secretary, or perhaps a different Secretary for each meeting.
Agree an action plan with specific people attached to each action
An action plan is really important to ensure that the team works effectively between meetings: an action plan will act as the agreed steps that need to take place. By assigning specific people to each action, the whole group will understand who’s responsibility is it to do what.
If you’re looking to find out more about meeting skills, we also have an Effective Meetings course.