Submitted by: Debbie Dapson www.madeleinesplacenm.com
Planning for a meeting is just as important as the meeting. These helpful tips will ease the process so your audience can focus on you.
1. Set meeting goals: Before you start actually planning the structure of the meeting, make sure you have an answer to the question: What do I want to accomplish?
2. Location, location, location: A dreary location will produce lackluster results. The physical surroundings of your off-site meeting can make an enormous difference. Think outside the box.
3. Tour the facilities: Be sure to take a tour of the venue before you select it. Make sure that the space meets your needs and that there is someplace for employees to put their belongings, a sufficient number of clean restrooms, and, if it is part of your plan, one or more areas where you can comfortably share a meal.
4. Create a pre-meeting countdown schedule: To make sure that you cover everything, draw up a list of pre-meeting items that need to be accomplished and work backwards from your event date to make sure that they are achieved without undue stress.
5. Budget: When planning the meeting, make sure that you have a budget figure in mind and that you have allowed for transportation, facility rental, equipment rental, accommodations, catering, and possibly the cost of hiring a facilitator, guest speaker or entertainer.
6. Speaking of equipment: While some meetings call for nothing more that a few chairs and a flip chart, attendees may bring laptops to access and present computer-based information, which would require a digital projector. You may also want secure internet access.
7. Plan for success: You want to make sure that you have processes defined that will meet your goals - from solving office problems, to generating fresh ideas and building team rapport
8. Add fun: Just because this is a business meeting, don't neglect recreational opportunities. Build time into the day's schedule to allow employees to play and develop rapport with each other
9. Build an agenda: Once you've worked out your meeting's goals, build and publish an agenda (and nominate a moderator) to keep the meeting on track.
10. Pre-meeting PR: Circulate your agenda before the retreat to prepare employees for participation. To further build interest and commitment, give employees homework to bring to the meeting.