How do you organize effective meetings?
An internal gathering wouldn’t be the biggest problem, especially when all your colleagues use Microsoft Outlook or a similar kind of software.
But when it’s external, and a large number of people are involved, the following guidelines will be more than useful.
Tips and tools for effective meetings
When you are the one who has to take the initiative to organize a meeting for a group of people, act as follows:
- Find out in which period the meeting has to take place, and whether there is a preference for a location. You need to know how long the meeting will take as well as the subject and the participants. The international world calendar might be helpful to avoid planning your conference at an inconvenient moment.
- The next step of organizing effective meetings is: Select 2, 3 or 4 suitable moments at which your manager is available and block this time in Outlook (you can mark the appointment as ‘provisionally’) or other planning software. Especially when the meeting participants originate from different companies, you can make use of this practical meeting planning utility Agreeadate.com.
- Take care of the travel time and distance of your manager as well as the other participants.
- Make a list of the participants. Start with the most important ones, essential for this meeting. Subsequently fill in the persons with a lower priority. Write down the names and contact details of the secretaries of these participants as well.
- In case you need to organize the meeting at a specific location, take an option for the moments you desire. Keep a possible extension in mind, in case the conference takes more time than expected.
- Send an e-mail with the invitation to the secretaries of the participants. In case some of them have no secretary, send the invitation of the meeting to organize to the person him/herself.
- As soon as you have received all reactions, make the meeting final in Outlook, including travel time.
- A good indication of travel time and route descriptions can be found a the following international route planners:
Local live international route planner
UK map24 international route planner, counting in miles
Via Michelin international route planner
Don’t forget to take into account extra time for traffic jams etc. This is an important step in organizing effective meetings.
- Confirm the meeting. Don’t forget to mention the date, time and place of the meeting, the subject or agenda, as well as the participants. Indicate whether e.g. a lunch is included. Add, if needed, a route description.
- Confirm, if needed, the reservation at the location of the meeting, and ask for a confirmation. For suggestions, refer to the page Good meeting venues.
- In case you don’t receive the reaction before the deadline, call the ones who didn’t react in time. It can be useful to add important data in Outlook, e.g. the appointments with the location (contact person, phone number, prices, etc.) or other planning applications.
Tips in case of problems
In case a participant is not available at the dates mentioned, call the secretary, and ask at which dates her manager is available. Send a new proposal to all participants with the alternative data (after checking the location).
If the above is not sufficient, call the secretary of the person not available, and ask if the meeting of her manager at the desired date can be shifted. It is important to explain that you are planning a meeting for a large group of people, in order to gain understanding.
Another solution might be the following: Ask your manager which persons need to be at which part of the meeting. Perhaps not all participants need to be at the (complete duration of the) meeting.
If you don’t have the time for a meeting to organize, which can be the case when it concerns larger events, like conferences, or international meetings, find here suggestions for a professional international meeting planner, most capable in organizing effective meetings and conferences.