A step-by-step guide on how to plan a meeting (with types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 September 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business meetings enable an organisation to remain focused on its professional targets. If you're holding a meeting in person or remotely via video call, it's vital that you plan to make sure you get the most out of it. You can also establish which type of meeting best suits your agenda and the most effective methods of accomplishing the meeting's objectives. In this article, we look at popular types of business meetings, why planning is important and offer 11 steps for how to plan a meeting effectively.

How to plan a meeting and why it's important

Meeting planning is important to ensure the most efficient use of your time, so knowing how to plan a meeting correctly helps to make sure your project runs smoothly. Planning can help to improve productivity and enables you to maximise the benefits of a meeting while also minimising the time that the meeting requires your team to take out of their working day. For example, planning a discussion on strategy can generate positive outcomes that may lead to improved employee performance, help to increase productivity and improve results.

Types of meetings to plan

There are many circumstances in which you may be to arrange a meeting. Some of the most common reasons to hold a business meeting include:

  • brainstorming session to discuss a new product, plan or a new approach

  • debrief at the end of a project to identify what went well and where you can improve

  • decision-making sessions when there are two or more solutions to a problem

  • orientation for a new employee to help them adapt to the company

  • problem-solving meeting to talk about potential solutions to an issue

  • status update to share how different parts of a project are progressing

  • team-building session to foster a stronger bond between members of the staff

  • training for a new piece of technology or a change in operating procedure

How to plan meetings

Here are some steps you can take to help ensure success in your next meeting:

1. Establish your goal and if it requires a meeting

Meetings take time from people's working day, so it's important to ensure that holding a meeting is the best way of approaching what you're trying to accomplish. consider what your goals are for the meeting and the time and input required to address them. If you only require a minimal amount of time, it may be that an email or brief discussion with the relevant staff members may be a better option than holding a formal meeting.

Related: How to write a meeting agenda (with tips and sample)

2. Decide on a format

The structure of a meeting is an important aspect that dictates how the meeting takes place and what you can achieve in that time. Firstly, you can decide on a discussion format. There are two main formats you may want to choose from. Either an open discussion that encourages all meeting attendees to participate and share their point of view or a lecture format, where you choose one or more people to speak and give a presentation. At a meeting that is focused on decision-making, it can help to establish how to finalise the decisions in advance.

Related: What are one-on-one meetings? (With benefits and tips)

3. Create a preliminary agenda

Considering your objectives and your planned meeting format, you can create a preliminary schedule that includes the topics you plan to cover and in what order and how much time to allocate to each. Having an outline for your proposed meeting before finalising the details provides you with a framework to follow.

Related: How to write meeting notes: essential steps

4. Assign roles

Before the meeting, it can help assign important roles to your colleagues or team to share the workload and prepare for the meeting. It also enables you to make changes if the individual in question is unavailable. You may want to consider assigning the following roles:

  • Meeting lead: Though a senior member usually leads the meeting, they may be absent from the meeting or prefer another staff member to facilitate it.

  • Notetaker: You can assign someone to take notes to keep a record of your meeting, whether it's writing down key ideas or a detailed transcription.

  • Timekeeper: Ensuring a meeting remains on schedule is important, so you choose to have one person to ensure it stays on track.

  • Experts: Some meetings may call for expert advice, this may be from an existing employee or an external consultant. Share your plans and objectives with those you expect to offer expertise in advance so that they have time to prepare their speech or presentation.

5. Select a time and a place

If your meeting takes place in person, be sure to book a room in advance to make sure you have a suitable location for the meeting. When booking, consider what equipment and technology you may need. It's a good idea to consider a time that causes minimal interference to all attendees' schedules, particularly if they are optional. You may send a poll to attendees and ask them to select their preferred meeting times. This helps you to choose a meeting time that best accommodates everyone.

Related: Time-management skills: definition, examples and tips for improvement

6. Invite your team

The earlier you can notify your team of the meeting, the more likely it is that they have the time and can block it out in their schedule. For those whose attendance is mandatory, providing them with advance notice enables them to plan around the meeting so that they can carry out any essential tasks first. When sending an invitation or notification to someone whose attendance is optional, request an RSVP so you know how many attendees to plan for. If you send a meeting invitation in advance, send a reminder closer to the meeting time.

7. Seek advice and opinions

You may wish to share your meeting plan with others to obtain feedback and outside opinions. This can help to improve your meeting strategy or content. Ask key staff members if there's anything they would add or remove from the meeting agenda or if they have any suggestions on how you can address the aims more effectively.

8. Finalise the agenda and share the resources

Using any feedback from staff members, you can reevaluate your meeting agenda and make any necessary changes before finalising it. You can then share a copy of the final version with anyone who has an assigned role in the meeting. You can also use this as an opportunity to prepare everyone for the meeting, regardless of their role. Provide any essential notes or reading in advance so that the attendees can familiarise themselves with relevant information. This helps them to make more informed contributions. If you plan to include handouts in your meeting, prepare copies ahead of time.

9. Test your technology

If you plan to use any technology in your meeting, such as digital presentations, test the technology before the meeting to ensure it's all working correctly. You can also ensure that you and any staff using the technology are familiar with it and understand how it works. For a remote meeting, it's a good idea to advise everyone to test their equipment and connection to make sure they can attend. This is especially key for those new to participating in a remote meeting.

10. Practice your responsibilities for the meeting

If you plan to give a speech or presentation at the meeting, you can practice this in advance. Having a practice session or two before the meeting can help you make sure you perform well, and that others have a good grasp of what you're telling them. You may also practice with a timer to ensure you can give your presentation or speech within a set amount of time.

Related: How to take your presentation skills to the next level

When your meeting has finished, it's a good idea to give those who attended any essential documents to help to reinforce the topics covered in the meeting. If the team came up with a new work plan at the meeting, you could send an email to summarise the new responsibilities and expectations. Providing a summary is useful for both those at the meeting and those who were unable to attend.

Related:

  • Arranging a meeting: key steps and types of meetings

  • What's a sprint plan? (Plus how to run a sprint meeting)

  • All-hands meetings: what they are and how to host one

  • Your guide to running a successful kick off meeting

  • How to facilitate a meeting in 11 steps: the complete guide


Explore more articles