11 Steps to Plan a Successful Meeting

Posted by Kristin Arnold on May 29, 2024

plan a successful meeting

The success of your team meeting is directly proportional to the amount of planning you have invested in that meeting.  You can’t just show up and expect magic to happen without a little bit of forethought.

To plan for a successful team meeting, follow these eleven steps:

  1. State the Overall Goal.  Almost every meeting is part of a series of meetings related to an overall organizational goal.
  2. State the Purpose of the Meeting.  Given the overall goal, define the purpose of the meeting.  For example, to provide or gather information, plan an activity, solve a problem, make a decision, share information, or take action.
  3. Identify the Desired Outcome(s).  What do you expect to accomplish by the end of this particular meeting?
  4. Identify the Deliverable.  Given the desired outcome(s), what tangible deliverables do you want as a result of the meeting?  For example, an action plan, a list, or an agreement.
  5. Scout the Context.  Every meeting takes place within a greater context.  Scout the environment to determine which events have an impact on the meeting.  Notice how the meeting may affect other events.  Examining the context helps avoid larger surprises.
  6. Determine Team Roles.  Spread the wealth and get others involved by giving other team members a role in the meeting. Identify the team leader, facilitator, timekeeper, scribe and/or recorder.  Ensure each team member has a clear understanding of his or her duties and responsibilities.
  7. Create the Environment.  With a bit of forethought, you can create a good meeting environment given the constraints that all organizations face.  You can reserve the room, sit in a U-shape, have all the “working stuff” already on the tables (e.g. stickie notes and markers).  If the meeting is longer than two hours, have some refreshments.  Even ice water is a nice touch.
  8. Select a Decision Strategy.  State upfront how the decision will be made, whether it is a command decision, expert decision, majority vote, minority control, command decision with input or consensus.  Describe how the decision will be made, by whom, who will be involved, and how they will be involved. 
  9. Select a Process to Achieve the Outcome.  Identify how you are going to accomplish your objective.  For example, you might brainstorm, review, list, or discuss a topic.
  10. Build the Agenda.  Take all of the above and build your agenda, listing the amount of time, the topic, the process, and the “leader” of that piece of the meeting.
  11. Distribute the Agenda, preferably at least 48 hours before the meeting.

Depending on the length and importance of the meeting, you may invest just a few minutes or a whole lot more time in planning for a successful team meeting.  It’s your call as to how much time you spend on planning for a successful meeting. Just going through these eleven steps will significantly increase meeting success!

Related Articles:

5 Strategies to Have More Productive Meetings

Hybrid Business Meetings: Top 10 Tips to Lead Effectively

7 Strategies to Keep Your Meetings on Track

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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