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How to Plan a Meeting

Studies also point out a discouraging trend: Surveyed professionals agree that as much as 50% of that meeting time is unproductive and that up to 25% of meeting time is spent discussing irrelevant issues. Typically, they complain that meetings are too long, are scheduled without adequate time to prepare and end without any clear result.

Most of us have been to seminars or conferences where we've left feeling insipired and rejuvenated. But how many of us have ever left everyday meetings feeling the same way. Rarely, no doubt. The reason is that good seminars and conferences are organized precisely to engage us. Sadly, most office meetings are not.

Believe it or not, meetings can and should be the most interesting and productive part of your day. And if you've ever been to a great conference or seminar, you already have seen some of the basic principles at work. These can be summarized as:
1) preparation
2) facilitation
3) inspiration
4) results

Preparation means making sure your meeting has a clear, stated purpose, and an agenda. Participants are chosen carefully, invited in professional way and given sufficient prior information. Preparation also means attention to details including: room bookings, catering, a/v equipment, reminders.

Facilitation means that someone or a team is responsible for guiding the meeting, a plan for the meeting is reflected in the agenda and the facilitator (or chair) keeps things on time and on track.

Inspiration is probably the most overlooked aspect of everyday meetings. All the attention to detail and process can push the opportunity for spontaneity and enthusiasm aside. Build in activites that engage participants, use strategies to generate discussion, or visual aids to grab attention.

Results means that every meeting should be directed toward one or more outcomes. Participants must feel that something has been accomplished, and they must see all of their meetings as part of the bigger strategy to involve them in the future of the organization. Achievements at one meeting should be recapped in the next, and so on.

This site offers much more information and tools for running effective meetings, and you are encouraged to visit often for a little inspiration of your own. Initially developed due to popular request from users of our Meeting Wizard online meeting planning tool, MeetingWizard.org was developed to help make meetings the heart and mind of your organization.

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