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How to Plan a Meeting: Top 3 Steps to Take

One of my husband’s doctors ordered a specialized test that required him to make a follow-up appointment to receive the results and have them explained. Both my husband and I took the day off from work for this important appointment.

After a nearly one-hour drive to the doctor’s office, and after waiting over an hour for someone to see us, the nurse practitioner came into the room and said, “We don’t have any results. Apparently, there was some kind of hold up, and the company did not run your labs.”

We lost all of this time because the office didn’t follow simple steps to set up a meeting.

Don’t be that person who jeopardizes client and colleague relationships by asking them to take time away from their work or families in order to meet with you – and then nothing comes of it!

There are different tactics to implement in order to ensure a successful meeting, such as planning a meeting, building an effective agenda and productively facilitating a meeting. The latter two I address in other blog posts. Right now, we’ll cover the first major component – whether you’re meeting in person or virtually.

Here are the top 3 steps you can take to plan a meeting and make sure you avoid costing others time and money.

Step 1 – Clarify with your customer or colleague the objective of the meeting.

Why do you want to schedule it? Or why does your customer or colleague want to schedule it? If neither of you can state the purpose or end result, there’s no need to schedule a meeting.

Step 2 – Confirm the date and time of the meeting.

Sometimes dates and times for possible future meetings are mentioned in conversations, but those details can get lost in the shuffle or confused with other details. Restate the day, date and time of the meeting, and allow time for each participant to confirm that they don’t have conflicting events. Immediately place the meeting details on your calendar. This prevents any double-bookings as well as forgetting to put the meeting on your schedule later, “when you get back to the office”. Additionally, be sure to include the purpose of this meeting in your calendar entry. This will remind you of what your client’s or colleague’s expectations are. If you want to go a step further, be the party who sends a digital calendar invite so that you know the information makes it onto other participants’ calendars.

Step 3 – Schedule time on your calendar to prepare for the meeting.

Yes, you’ve already put the meeting on your calendar. This is the step where you put your prep time on the calendar. Do you need to create or research anything? Do you need to review any documents or information? When will you do this? 15 minutes before the meeting? One week before the meeting? Schedule an appointment with yourself on the calendar to complete this preparation. This will prevent any last-minute scrambling – or forgetting.

When you’re the one who confirms the details, and you’re the one who shows up completely knowledgeable and ready to go, you’ll also be the one that your clients and colleagues remember as efficient and reliable.

If you follow these 3 steps, you will always show up prepared to your meetings.

Next week, we’ll cover 3 bonus steps you can take to ensure your meeting goes well.

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead? The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits. Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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