Planning Your First Business Meeting

First, place the date and establish the schedule. It is important to prepare the schedule well in advance. You need to ensure everyone has an opportunity to look it over to get prepared and give you feed back on areas which may have to be included. In preparing an agenda, envision the objective of the meeting. How long will it last? How many speakers/presentations will there be? How will the meeting advancement? How will you achieve your target for a productive and successful meeting?

Second, decide on a time for the meeting to start AND end. It’s very important that you keep the meeting on schedule. You can always go back and revisit unresolved problems as time permits.
Third, find out that has to be invited to the meeting. Identify those who must be present to accomplish the goal of the meeting and include people that you might need to invite due to their status. Make this step easier by setting up a meeting notification process whether is by email or regular mail. Attach the schedule to the notice so everyone is on the same page from the beginning. Be specific if there’s homework or advance preparation for the attendees. Ask all participants to react to guarantee everybody has received the communication.

Finally, look closely at the details and logistics. This is where a checklist pays off:
Selecting the area and lodging
Where is the meeting being held? Is it easily accessible (wheelchairs or handicap access, comfortable space with loads of sating?
Check the temperature. There’s nothing worse to dampen a meeting than a cozy room.
Identify where the rest rooms are. Find a place where people can store briefcases and luggage if they are traveling to attend.
Make sure that there are tons of chairs with space to spread out particularly if this is a”working” meeting.
Will you will need a translator/s?

Gear
Will you require AV and presentation equipment in the assembly? Will the presenters need the same? (Check about microphones and podium preferences.) Make certain to discover this information well in advance so that you can make the right arrangements.
Test all equipment before the beginning of the meeting. If at all possible have a techie prepared to deal with any snafus that might take place.

Provides
Have name badges, pencils, pads of paper and other essential assembly supplies available.
Are files required? Will there be handouts and materials which will need to be prepared?
Have them done well ahead of time in case of errors.

Assist
Have a individual sitting outside the area for the test in.
Distribute documents or materials at check in and register attendees.
Secure someone to take notes before the meeting begins.
If you want to tape the proceedings tell everyone up front that you’re recording.

Refreshments
Have juice, water, tea and coffee available. If the meeting covers a mealtime, you’ll also need to offer food. Make the arrangements beforehand and have it delivered to the assembly so as to not interrupt the flow. Keep special dietary requests in mind. It is always best to purchase a few vegetarian items.

Breaks
Depending on the duration of the meeting one or more breaks may be required. Be specific about the time allocated to the break and resume the meeting on time if all of the participants have returned or not.

No matter how well prepared you are there’s always some unanticipated issue. Do not let it get you flustered. Roll with the flow. In case you’ve used these tips, you can feel assured that you’ve done your homework. If something does go wrong, be on the ready to repair it quickly and gently. And bear in mind, anything can happen even to the most experienced meeting planner. Use the event as a building block to future successful meetings.