In the corporate world, meetings are a necessary (and occasionally irritating) part of the job. Whether it’s a casual scrum-style stand-up meeting or a huge company-wide gathering that includes everyone from the interns to C-suite seniors, successful meetings take careful choreography, planning, and organization.
We’ve all been to a meeting that didn’t go as planned: A presenter is late, important attendees didn’t get the invite, or the agenda gets “lost in the mail.” If you’re wondering how to have a successful meeting, the trick is to avoid these common mistakes!
1. Not having an agenda, or not getting it out in time
Successful meetings need an agenda. It helps the meeting flow smoothly and allows everyone to come prepared. But all too often, the agenda goes out late or is ignored altogether. Be sure your attendees have adequate time to review the agenda before the meeting. If possible, send it as an attachment to the meeting invite.
2. Sending the invite incorrectly
How are you to have a successful meeting? Start by sending the invites out correctly. How many emails do you receive each day? How many of them do you immediately read and act on? Chances are, those two numbers don’t match up. When you send a meeting invite in the text of an email instead of as a calendar invitation, you run the risk of it falling into some mysterious black hole, never to be seen again. Instead, invite attendees through a calendar program where they can immediately accept or decline it. Also, make sure to use the correct time zone abbreviations—they matter more than you think!)
3. Not confirming with speakers, presenters, or other VIPs
Many successful meetings rely heavily on guest speakers or presenters—but these VIPs aren’t infallible. Don’t leave your attendees waiting for someone who may not show up; instead, confirm with the speaker a week ahead of time, as well as the day before the meeting. This leaves you time to make alternative arrangements or reschedule the meeting if they aren’t able to make it.
4. Failing to take care of your speakers
Want to know how you can have a successful meeting? Take care of your speakers. Paid or unpaid, your speakers are still taking time out of their busy schedules to speak to your organization. Designate someone to get them a plate of food or offer them first dibs at mealtime. Provide them a quiet spot to eat, drink, and prepare their notes, and don’t forget to offer them somewhere to freshen up before their presentation. No one wants to face an eager audience with spinach in their teeth!
5. Choosing bad meeting food
Most meetings involve some sort of food and drink, whether it’s bagels and coffee or a full lunch spread. But some foods work far better than others. Save the messy meals (sticky ribs, pasta and sauce, etc.) for the company picnic and choose easy-to-eat foods that won’t get stale, soggy, or stinky as the meeting goes along. It’s also a good practice to ask your attendees about any food sensitivities or dietary restrictions before you make a final catering determination. If you’re wondering how to have a successful meeting, the trick is to avoid this common mistake.
There’s no doubt about it: Planning successful meetings takes time, effort, and plenty of organization. But with the right preparation, you can make them more enjoyable and productive, and ensure that everything goes as smooth as possible.
Start planning the catering order for your next meeting!