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Plan Efficient Meetings: Logistics and Materials

This lesson is a part of an audio course Plan Efficient Meetings by Igor Arkhipov

The more sophisticated your meeting is, the more materials you may need to prepare.

Those can be organisational in nature – the ones that help you discuss the subject matter, give context to the participants, facilitate the conversations in the room.

But you also need to make sure you have enough supplies for the people to use during the meeting. Think about little necessities that may cause disruption or get the people out of the room if not provided. This is true for both online and offline meetings. In a face-to-face set up, these may be things like post-it notes, markers, or chairs. In an online setting, access to software, the ability to use collaborative tools, quality of sound and video are important to think about beforehand.

But first, let's have a look at the materials that are organisational in nature.

A meeting agenda is something you put together well in advance and distribute to the participants. Sometimes you may need to print it out or write it somewhere on the wall to make it accessible during the meeting.

You may also prepare a facilitator's agenda, which is different from the meeting agenda. This is your own checklist and plan – which questions to ask when, which activities to run, how to run them.

To make sure people know about the meeting, you usually issue Invites. These are the tokens that notify people about the meeting. In the majority of cases, they will be simple outlook calendar invites, but they can also be printed, or distributed via other digital channels. Make sure the invites are designed in a way that clearly articulates the goal and purpose of the meeting, which role the recipient is going to play, what are the location and time of the meeting.

If you are planning to use any print-outs, make sure you've got them covered in advance.

It is a good idea to print simple forms to ask for immediate feedback after the meetings. Include any specific questions you want to be answered, for example, whether the facilitation was good, or activities were helpful, as well as leave the space for free form comments.

For online meetings, you can prepare a web-form to collect feedback instead.

There is nothing as annoying as being in a meeting when you realise participants cannot contribute.

So make sure you are prepared. For an offline meeting, get the minimum equipment ready, such as:

  • Sticky notes.

  • Poster paper.

  • Note pads.

  • Markers.

  • Flipcharts.

  • Name tags.

  • Water and glasses, and so on.

For an online one, make sure people have access to your conference system (e.g., the software is installed on their machines). If you plan to share the screen, prepare the materials that you want to show that is easy to present from the screen and easy to manage during the session. If you need the participants to contribute, find a tool that facilitates it – for example, an in-built chat, or an online collaborative board, or a web-form. Make sure, that the audience is familiar with the tool (or explain to them how to use it) and that everybody is aligned which channel to use.

It is helpful to have a list of your own and use it as a checklist every time you run a meeting.

Also, a great idea to have a workshop kit – a box of commonly used supplies prepared, so every time you need to run a workshop, you just grab it, and you are ready. Don't forget to re-supply it after the meetings, though!

There is another simple idea that saved a lot of meetings. Powerpoint sucks!

Never rely on slides or any other visual aid alone to deliver the idea. The key means of delivery is you and only you. The rest is secondary, it exists to aid you in this process, not to substitute you.

If any of the materials become a more important means of delivery for your ideas than yourself – cancel the meeting and just distribute those materials. It will save a lot of time and effort.

Thank you, we'll speak soon.

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Written by

Igor Arkhipov