The best way to ensure you will cover everything that needs addressing in your meeting is to work with an effective template.
A template for your meeting (or a plan) or can help you get things done more easily.
If you enjoy going on holiday, chances are you are familiar with this scenario. You pack your things and check (once, twice, three times) that you have your passport, ticket, and phone. You even feel a rush of pride when you remember you did pack your charger too. You get on the plane, arrive at your destination... and realize you have forgotten your toothbrush.
There is always one thing that slips our minds, no matter how good we think we are at preparing for the unexpected. An adaptor. A comb. A reason to rush to reception and beg for help.
Why I Have a Process for Packing
Tired of dealing with missing basics, I became determined never to find myself in that position again. So, I decided to write a process for packing. That's right; I have a list of things I check every time I need to go away.
Some people worry about their trip preparation weeks in advance, living in a constant state of underlying apprehension. Me? Every time I am required to take a trip, all I need is half an hour to get ready. I just pull my list and make sure I pack everything in it. Then I am certain I won't have to worry about what I might be leaving behind.
Over time this list has grown into a workflow, with lots of if statements, for example, if I am going sailing I have to pack my sailing gloves and waterproofs; If I am going away in the UK with my wife I take a bottle of wine so we can have a drink in the hotel room without paying extortionate minibar prices for wine we don’t like; If I know I will be on a plane for a long time, I download some films.
I have also nuanced this workflow to add in loads of niceties which make my trips more enjoyable such as taking a jar of the decaffeinated coffee we both like in my luggage. I like decaf, and while most hotels include a kettle, not many offer enough options when it comes to what to prepare with it. I don't want whatever the espresso machine can come up with; I want the brand of decaf I enjoy .
All these little extras just make my trips better.
So, when I'm about to travel, I got all these things prepared - plus, of course, the basics for any trip such as adaptors, cables, etc.
I think we should consider a similar approach when we talk about preparing for a meeting.
Planning for a Meeting
I have perfected my travel process to the point where I know I will be able to enjoy a cup of decaffeinated coffee (or a good glass of excellent wine) anywhere in the world. Surely, we can all apply similar process-friendly efforts at work.
We shouldn't leave our meeting needs to chance. Not when we can control the situation by making sure we got everything we will require ahead of time. You don't want to find yourself, while on holiday, out in the streets looking for a comb. Similarly, you shouldn't have to go look for resources, equipment, or people once a meeting has begun. Because when you don't plan in advance, you might not find the thing you need in time. And, as a consequence, you will waste more time and effort looking for it.
Meeting Templates and Meeting Processes
If you have a meeting agenda, you will be armed with an effective process that can also help you keep things within bounds. For example, something many people use to make sure things go according to plan is a meeting template. It doesn't have to be a strict one with time-boxed pre-assigned slots, but some guidelines always help. You can decide who is going to be in the meeting, what information you will need, and what is going to be discussed.
A meeting template or process can (and should) also be flexible. If I find myself on holiday and missing something I need that was not on my list, I just add it. Now I know that the situation will be (provided I follow my process) completely avoided from then on. Similarly, if you have a plan for a meeting and some new need arises, you can modify the process and make sure you are future-proof - at least in that one aspect.
Using a meeting template can help you plan more effective encounters and use the time available to you more wisely. Of course, you can tailor yours to your specific needs, but below you will find some examples of meeting templates. These can be particularly helpful if you are just starting with your planning).
Basic Components of a Meeting Template
There are some components and steps you should always include in your meeting template.
Set the basics: Start by listing the title, date, location, and start and end times for your meeting.
Purpose and objectives: Describe the primary purpose of the meeting, its objectives, and the decisions you expect to be made during it.
Participants: List everyone that will attend the meeting, including who the leader will be, any group facilitators, and note-takers.
Activities: Next, it's time to list the different activities you will want to cover. It's always a good idea to start a meeting with an opportunity for team members to share one good piece of news (it can be business-related or personal). However, your template should include things like:
Time (or duration).
Names of people responsible, including leader, time keeper, or recorders.
The activity's objective and interactions.
Room setup, equipment, and materials needed
beSlick Meeting Templates
beSlick can help you get your workflows, tasks, and processes working together in one system. We have compiled a list of the 25 processes that every business needs (these include strategies for customer success, finance, human resources, operations, and sales and marketing) and also have a central library with a drag & drop process builder.
You can create your own workflows, tasks, and processes and make sure you have the best meeting template, or you can use one of our library templates:
Quarterly Rock Setting Meeting Agenda: A process template to help you complete quarterly meetings.
Weekly Pulse Meeting Agenda: A 90-minute weekly meeting template to resolve issues and compare quarterly rocks.
Scorecard Figures for Weekly Pulse Meeting: A report containing numbers and goals so people can list figures each week.
Process for Hosting a Webinar: Although not exactly a meeting, webinars have several elements in common, too.