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How to Prepare for a Meeting Like a Pro

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Pre-meeting jitters. We’ve all been there. Whether you’re presenting to a live or virtual audience, all kinds of fears and concerns might be running through your head. What if you forget your talking points? What if you totally blank on the topic? Or, what if your audience is bored and disengaged when you speak? These are all common concerns, but here’s some good news: most, if not all, can be concerned with proper preparation! That’s why, in this post, we’re going to share some strategies for how to prepare for a meeting like a pro.

Start with “why”

First and foremost, you need to be clear about the intended outcome of the meeting. What is the purpose of the meeting? And what are your goals? Answer all of these questions and use that insight to help drive you forward in preparing for the meeting. When you’re clear about the ‘why’ of the meeting, you can use that as a guide to ensure you’re doing whatever you can to come away from the meeting feeling like it was a success.

Prepare a meeting agenda

The next most important step to help you prepare for a meeting is creating an agenda. This agenda will provide structure for the meeting, and it will also help calm your nerves knowing you can refer to the agenda at any point if you’re lost. 

Here are some tips from Indeed to help you create this agenda:

  1. “Identify the meeting’s goals.
  2. Seek input from participants.
  3. List the questions you want to address.
  4. Identify the purpose of each task. 
  5. Estimate the amount of time to spend on each topic.
  6. Identify who leads each topic. 
  7. End each meeting with a review.”

Here’s what Donny Gamble shares about the importance of creating a meeting agenda:

“I also always prepare an agenda and send it out a week before the meeting so everyone has a chance to look over it and compile any questions they have. To make these meetings even more productive, and ensure we do not waste time off topic, I give each item on the agenda a time limit. I then use my phone or watch to time the topic and when it is over, I stop. If we do not resolve the issue, I put it on the agenda for the next meeting.”

Invite participants strategically

Now it’s time to start inviting meeting attendees! This step is saved for once you’ve already determined your “why” for a good reason. With this ‘why’ in mind, you’ll have a clear picture of exactly who needs to be at the meeting. That being said, we encourage you to invite all team members, even if their attendance might not be necessary at that particular meeting. This helps create a more inclusive atmosphere.

As we explain in this post: “Chances are, in most meetings, some attendees are essential and the presence of others is optional. So, why not create meeting invites for both? You can mark the attendance for certain members as “optional” and for others as “mandatory.” This then leaves it up to the team member to decide if they want to attend the meeting.”

In addition to inviting participants to attend, it’s also a good time to invite them to participate in pre-meeting brainstorming sessions or by completing polls to collect data that might be useful during the meeting.

Practice

For many people, preparation and practice are the keys to easing your nerves before you present in a meeting. When you have the confidence that you’re prepared to present, it will give you the peace of mind needed. 

That being said, there’s a fine line between being prepared and being over-prepared. For example, preparing for a meeting should never come at the cost of giving up sleep or other basic needs. Instead, schedule time to prepare for a meeting into each day leading up to it. Then, stick to that schedule and stop when you’re supposed to!

How do you prepare for a meeting?

There you have it! Several tips and strategies to help you prepare for a meeting like a pro. 

Now we want to hear from you! How do you prepare for a meeting? What are the most effective strategies you’ve found to help you head into every meeting feeling ready for anything? Let us know!

 

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