Best Practices for Meeting Management

By: Melissa Johnston

Are you planning a meeting and unsure where to begin? Yellow Brick Project Coordinator Melissa Johnston can help you with the preparation process.

Melissa has been working as a consultant to healthcare facilities for the last eight years. One of her key responsibilities is ensuring that both her project manager and project team have all the tools and information they need to be successful. Having planned hundreds of meetings with C-Suite executives, workgroup leaders, and frontline staff, Melissa understands what it takes to make your next meeting a hit. Below she offers her tried and true advice for meeting management.

Always Come Prepared

When you are hosting a meeting, know your topic and the goals of your presentation. Prepare an agenda for the meeting and ensure that you are knowledgeable about all the topics said to be covered. If you are requesting a guest speaker, be courteous by giving them enough notice so that they can prepare for and attend the meeting.  Communicate the topics that you would like them to cover in advance so that they can complete any research that may be needed.  Provide an agenda for the meeting and communicate the time that you have allotted for them to speak.

Be Punctual!

First impressions are lasting, so ensure that you start off on the best foot possible with your clients by being on time. If you show up late for your own meeting, you’ll lose credibility and control of the meeting.  A best practice if you are traveling by car or by foot is to allow yourself plenty of time. Prepare for your meeting as if you are getting ready to travel by plane. Consider travel time to the airport (time to travel to the meeting location), finding the right airline (finding your conference room), and getting through security (setting up the room). I make it a point to arrive at my meetings 20-30 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin. This helps me relax and gives me time to check the AV, which leads to the next best practice.

Check AV Equipment Before the Meeting

There is nothing worse than arriving at your conference room and being unable to connect to the projector or not knowing how to use the conference phone! If you are going to a conference room that you have never been in before, the best practice is to reserve the room for 20-30 minutes before your meeting starts. This gives you time to set-up and determine how the AV equipment works. Technology is always changing and you may need to download an app or other software to support connectivity.  If available, have the phone number for IT or the conference room support department to help with any AV issues. This way, if all else fails, you can easily call for help!

Establish Meeting Norms

Gathering people to attend a meeting can be very trying, especially with everyone’s busy schedules. If you need to discuss controversial or other important issues, establish ground rules. It can be difficult to tell adults how to behave in a meeting, but you want to be respectful of the presenters and ensure your attendees are engaged.  To open the conversation, be polite and inform the group of the meeting time limit and any rules that have been established. An example that you can use: “Thank you for your participation. We only have an hour together so let’s close laptops and if you need to take a call, please step out of the room.” Establishing these rules from the beginning will obtain stakeholder buy-in and will communicate that the meeting is important.

Bring a good attitude!

When relaying information to your audience, your voice and body language are very important. If you are speaking to a large audience, be sure that the person in the last row can hear you. It can be difficult to hear if there are distractions such as phones ringing, paper shuffling, and people talking, so ensure that your voice is strong and that you project. You should project your voice but do not yell. Body language is displayed in many ways. When speaking to your audience, it is okay to talk with your hands, but be mindful of your actions and do not over-exaggerate. You do not want to look like one of the inflatable tube dancers you see at a car lot! Make sure to stand up straight and do not put your hands in your pockets while presenting. Lastly, keep the audience’s focus on the presentation by scanning the room and maintaining eye contact.

Using these best practices can increase your chances of engaging your audience’s attention and participation. Each meeting is unique and will always bring its own set of objectives, but by sticking to these basics, you will be sure to wow the group at your next meeting.