The Ultimate Meeting Planning Checklist
Planning an engaging, productive meeting is significantly harder than it tends to sound to the average person. A big part of the difficulty with this process is the simple fact that planners must juggle so many different logistical factors. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just choosing a venue and inviting a group of people.) There are so many things, big and small, to remember. That’s why, when you’ve been tasked with this responsibility, it’s crucial to go about planning meetings in an extremely methodical and well-organized way. Luckily, we’ve provided you with a handy (and very thorough!) meeting planning checklist, to make this whole thing a heck of a lot easier. Follow our guide to ensure that you don’t forget any crucial steps, and make your meeting a success.
Our meeting planning checklist
Here’s our overview of the meeting planning process. All meetings have their own unique set of goals and attendees, so you may also have other elements to consider—but this basic “skeleton” of a plan should work for any standard meeting. You can easily adapt it to your needs, adding extra details or steps as you see fit.
1. Decide: what’s the meeting for?
You may have a general idea of the topic of your meeting, but the first step to planning a meeting that’s purposeful (and, frankly, to not wasting invitees’ time!) is ensuring that you have a clear focus. You want it to be specific and, preferably, action-oriented. It should be something that is most effectively addressed at an in-person meeting, not something that could be just as successfully dealt with by email. If you aren’t able to identify a specific topic, now’s the time to question whether the meeting is truly a necessity. After all, everyone is busy pretty much all the time, so your meeting will only involve true engagement by participants if it’s happening for a good reason!
2. Plan your meeting schedule
Now that you know what topic you’re focusing on, you can set an agenda for the meeting. In just about all cases you’ll need to include an introductory segment as well as a concluding dialogue. In between, figure out what you’ll be doing/discussing and roughly how long. Our advice: whenever possible, err on the side of a shorter rather than longer meeting. Often meetings are longer than they need to be, but at shorter meetings, participants are more able to concentrate on the issues at hand (and less tempted to zone out or read emails on their laptops).
3. Figure out who’s invited, and—just as importantly—why you need them there
You’ve got a clear, focused topic and a general agenda. Now, next on the meeting planning checklist is answering: who will be in attendance? In addition, what will they be doing at the meeting? This is a good point at which to figure out who will take on any key tasks/roles you think might help the flow of your gathering; the most basic categories of roles include the facilitator/leader, recorder, timekeeper, and participant. Deciding on roles while selecting invitees is a great way to ensure that everyone who’s coming really needs to be there. And it is important to make sure that you don’t invite people who don’t need to be there so that everyone’s time is used to its most valuable end. Once you have your agenda and list of invitee roles, you can also identify how you’ll plan to make any important group decisions (for instance, will the group take a vote?)
4. Choose your meeting venue
For less important meetings, you can definitely opt for your standard office conference room. But if you’re especially invested in getting attendees engaged and energized, you should consider taking them out of their everyday environment. After all, who doesn’t love to escape the office? Being in a new space can inspire new ideas and fresh creativity. And when you’re choosing an external venue, consider an alternative to the standard, sterile “meeting space” you might initially imagine. Instead, check out Peerspace’s thousands of unique spaces, from stately mansions to warehouse lofts to cozy cottages to hip art galleries. If you’ll be incorporating a virtual video conference element, choose a space with meeting-ready A/V equipment, or bring what you need!
5. Send out invitations and relevant materials
It’s time to send out your invites! Be sure to include a description of what the meeting will cover so that invitees can make informed decisions about whether they need to attend. (Within a few days of the meeting date, you should also send attendees any content you’d like them to view before they arrive.)
6. Final preparations
Make sure that any documents, applications, or equipment you’ll be using are in perfect working order. The last thing you want is to derail the focus of your meeting by spending, say, the first 20 minutes trying to get your crucial PowerPoint presentation to open. Likewise, make sure things like projectors, webcams, etc. are functional. In addition, a day or two before the meeting, you can check in with anyone who hasn’t responded to your invitation and finalize your list of participants.
7. Follow up after the meeting
So you’ve successfully held your meeting! Your work may not be quite done: whenever it would be at all helpful, it’s a good idea to follow up with participants to ensure agreed-upon action items are put into practice. You can use notes from the assigned recorder to summarize key topics and group discussions. This is a great way to keep the momentum from your discussion moving everything forward.
Sure, beginning the process of planning a meeting with no roadmap can be fairly intimidating. But never fear—as with just about any big task, breaking it down into its chronologically-ordered component steps is an effective way to get it done. (“Slow and steady wins the race” would definitely apply here.) Try using our meeting planning checklist to organize your time, and especially to save yourself the headache of trying to remember every last step! And as for the perhaps challenging process of finding the ideal venue, Peerspace grants you access to thousands of easy-to-book listings. No matter what vibe you’re going for, there’s something for you: professional or casual, lavish or budget-friendly, creative or business-oriented, expansive or cozy… the list goes on!