Hosting a virtual or in-person meeting is a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy. It’s easy to forget that your role is really a compliment when you’re snowed under with planning the agenda.
Everyone who attends the conference will be looking to you for direction. They see you as a leadership figure, and you want to do the best you can to guide each person.
Because of the importance of your position, you don’t want to slack, but you don’t want to get overwhelmed, either. To find that fine line between relaxed and fully prepared, use these four tips to prepare for your next meeting.
1. Define the Purpose and Goals
Are you holding this convention because you were told to by your boss? Or are you the boss, and you think it’s time for a gathering of your staff?
The distinction matters when you’re setting the purpose and goals. If there is no clear reason for everyone to take time out of their schedule for you, they aren’t going to be too happy.
Decide if You Really Need a Meeting
Is the purpose of the forum something you could clarify through a phone call or email instead?
Are you singling out one or two people in front of the crowd? If so, consider making an appointment with those individuals instead of the whole group. Your staff will know the agenda wasn’t meant for them, and, again, they will feel like you wasted their time.
Move Ahead With Your Goals
You’ve decided that yes, a conference is essential. The next step is to set one main objective and define it. You know why you need the meeting; now it’s time to specify what the outcome of this time will be.
Set your goal, and then plan the agenda around this target. If it doesn’t meet the objective, shelve it for another time.
2. Plan the Location
Scheduling an in-person convention at a place other than your office needs to be prepared well in advance. This is especially true if the event is out of town. Your guests will need to plan travel time and book lodging, and you’ll need to reserve a meeting space.
The location of the event matters. It needs to be professional and organized, but with a personal touch for guests to enjoy outside of working hours.
To get started, many businesses send an RFP, or a request for proposal. This step is an open request for hotels to submit bids to get your booking. It’s a method of securing the best prices for a meeting room or venue and multiple hotel rooms.
As with other forms of bidding, hotels know that your RFP is a competition. To get your booking, they need to offer you competitive rates. This article by Hotel Engine walks you through submitting an RFP.
3. Share Your Agenda Ahead
With the scheduled location and discussion firmly planned, it’s ready to be shared with the invited attendees.
Make a basic outline out of your planning notes. Under each section, include a small footnote that tells the reader what they need to know and how to prepare for the event.
For instance, if you’ll be giving out a short written assignment, remind them to bring a pen or pencil. (If the meeting is in person, have some on hand to give out because there will be people who don’t read the note or forget.)
If you’re offering a video attendance option, include the video link on the agenda before you email it. Include the event’s location and contact information for booking rooms.
4. Communicate Before the Meeting
Communication is the key to any successful interaction. Hosting a gathering isn’t one-sided. Brainstorming interactively with your upcoming guests fixes a lot of kinks early. It also gives you input to improve the conference.
One way to do this is to include a link to a survey with your agenda. Ask the participants pertinent questions about their thoughts on the upcoming meeting. Their thoughts and ideas, offered in a safe space, may give you the insight you hadn’t had before.
If multiple people have the same questions or thoughts, you can adjust your itinerary before the conference. Research the topic and add it to your discussion.
These survey answers will also guide you as you prepare to address follow-up questions after the agenda is complete.
Each detail is crucial from the location of the meeting to the topics discussed. As the host planning the event, you don’t want to slack on any part of the preparation. These four tips will help you as you put together an impactful gathering for your company.