Let’s face it—meetings are not everyone’s cup of tea. We all have our own hang ups and frustrations but the major complaint I’ve heard most often is meetings don’t always feel productive. This could be for a variety of reasons, but I suspect many of the complications that arise in these less productive meetings stem from a lack of proper preparation.
What if you could walk into a meeting that was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. and actually sit down and begin meeting at 2:00 p.m.? It sounds simple enough, but it seems more often the first 2, 5 or even 10 minutes of a meeting are spent syncing technology, waiting for attendees to refresh their coffee or grabbing more chairs. Not to mention the time lost when someone needs to run back to their desk for a new pen or the notepad they forgot.
These little annoyances are easily avoidable if you’re prepared with the right infrastructure from the get-go. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you hit the ground running in your next meeting!
1. Create a clear system for meeting scheduling and conference room reservation.
Having a defined system for scheduling and viewing meetings can cut down on confusion and frustration and create clear lines of communication. There are many options for making your office’s meeting schedule transparent. Consider using a shared Google calendar, the company Intranet or even a physical meeting calendar hung in a convenient place.
In your office, you may be responsible for setting up your own meetings or there may be a person designated to assist in these situations. Either way, the more information that is able to be included and planned for ahead of time, the better. Consider noting information like number of attendees, food or beverage requests and technology assistance in a calendar posting.
2. Follow a checklist to ensure nothing is missed.
Every office is different but generally, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:
- How many people will be attending this meeting? Do I have enough seats, supplies and documents?
- How long is the meeting? Will attendees benefit from snacks or beverages? (Pro tip: The answer to this one is nearly always “yes”)
- How is information going to be presented? Will we be using a projector or other technology that may require additional time to set up?
3. Allow plenty of time for set-up.
It’s important to plan out time to prepare for a meeting so you and your team are set up for success. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you might need to accomplish your prep work. Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to have everything in place. If it’s ready early, fantastic! By planning ahead, you’re giving yourself more time in the actual meeting for, well, doing meeting things!
4. Keep conference rooms fully stocked with anything and everything you might need in a meeting.
Beyond the specific items necessary for each meeting, it’s helpful to keep an area in the room stocked with all of the little “maybe” and “whoops” items someone could need. This way, no one needs to leave the room to find it! These items range from basic office supplies like extra pens, notepads and tape to more specific items like to-go boxes, laptop power cords and lens cleaner. You can even include informational cards for easy technology access. Wi-fi credentials, projector instructions and even a guide to the features of the conference room can help to make meeting set-ups a breeze!
5. Create a welcoming, creative environment.
For the most part, meetings are set to facilitate innovative new ideas and cultivate teamwork. If your meeting rooms make guests feel comfortable, welcome and special, you’re more likely to have an energized meeting that supports these types of goals. Consider adding greenery with fresh flowers or potted plants. Take time to choose conference chairs that are not only comfortable but up the style factor in the room. Even adding throw pillows, tabletop décor and wall art can help the conference room feel less sterile and more inviting.
By taking time outside of your meeting to follow these few simple tricks, you allow yourself the time during your meeting to be more productive, more efficient and less frustrated, all while creating a WOW-worthy experience for your team. And honestly, couldn’t we all use a bit of WOW in our lives?