Planning an event takes time, it takes patience, ideas, people, and above all, it takes meetings.
While technological advancements and online tools like Slack have certainly made event planning easier, nothing is as effective for getting on the same page with your staff and volunteers as running a meeting.
But running an event planning meeting isn’t always the easiest task. There are other people’s schedules and opinions to consider. Your staff’s time needs to be accounted for, details need to be addressed, and people’s attention needs to be kept on track.
Since meetings are the lifeblood of planning your event it’s essential that you know how to lead one. To make sure that everything comes together seamlessly for your next event, we’re going to break down the best strategies for before, during, and after a meeting so that you can start leading productive event planning meetings right away.
Before the Meeting
The first step to running a planning meeting that is both advantageous to your employees and yourself is to do your prep work. Nothing is a bigger waste of time and energy than coming to a meeting unprepared. Click To Tweet So, it’s essential that in the days before your meeting you arrange a couple of key details. Such as:
- Creating an agenda. Agendas are vital when it comes to knowing what you’re going to talk about, who needs to attend the meeting, and how long your meeting is going to last. Likewise, send your agenda to all your meeting attendees before the meeting, so that they’re aware of what you’ll be talking about as well.
- Determine who really needs to be there. With your meeting agenda in hand, it should be relatively easy to make sure that all the people who are attending this meeting have action items that relate to them so that no one is coming to the meeting who doesn’t need to be there. This not only keeps people more productive, but it’s an easy way to show that you have respect for all your staff members’ time.
- Send out a reminder. Email your staff and volunteers the day before or day of your meeting. Don’t leave it to chance. Especially if you want your meeting attendees to come prepared with any type of research or feedback — give them that extra reminder that the meeting will be happening so they can come prepared.
During the Meeting
With the correct planning ahead of time, you mitigate a lot of the headaches that can arise during your planning meeting. However, there will always be hiccups along the way. To help you avoid as many as you can:
- Keep the topic of conversation on track. We’ve all been in that meeting where a member gets sidetracked or rambles on. While it’s not the end of the world, if left unchecked this can be a huge waste of everyone’s time. If this is the case, remember to come back to your agenda. Your agenda can help set clear expectations and shift the conversation to get everyone back on track.
- Take notes. During your meeting, it is essential that you take notes so that everyone can remember what was discussed and what needs to be accomplished by the next time you meet. You can assign a designated note taker or rotate, but make sure it’s being done in every meeting.
- Start with unfinished action items. Unfortunately, even in the best run meetings, not everything can be taken care of every time. Use your meeting notes and agenda from the last meeting to determine if anything was left unfinished, then start this meeting off with any those items so that things don’t get put on the back burner for too long.
- Leave everyone with clear action items. Checking in to see how things are going is important, but you also need to make sure that the balls keep moving forward. Leave each meeting with attendees knowing what needs to be done by the next time you meet again.
After the Meeting
Finally, Just because your meeting is over, doesn’t mean the work is officially done. Click To Tweet There are still a few more loose threads that you’ll want to tie up.
- Send out the meeting notes. Make sure you send out your notes to all the attendees right after your meeting is done, with clear action items so that they can implement sooner rather than later. Likewise, if you’ll be hosting another meeting, make sure to include when it will be held, as well.
- Set reminders to check-in. Sometimes, people need a gentle nudge to get all of their action items accomplished. Once the meeting is over, set yourself some reminders to follow up with anyone who might need it, to keep the ball rolling.
Incorporating Volunteers into Your Planning Meetings
Finally, running a planning meeting with your staff is one thing, but throwing volunteers into the mix can be a whole other ball game.
If you choose to incorporate volunteers into your next event, here are a couple strategies you can use to make your planning meeting even more successful.
- Be prepared. Just like any planning meeting you’d have with your staff, it’s also essential that you have all the I’s dotted for the meeting with your volunteers. Create and print out a meeting agenda for everyone.
- Keep everyone up to date. Choose topics that you specifically want feedback on from your volunteers or topics that you’d like to update your attendees on. People like to be in the know, so communicating updates to your volunteers is as important as it is to your staff.
- Be hyper-aware of their time commitment. Including volunteers in your event planning meeting means that you need to take into account when they are available, which is usually after hours. Therefore, it’s important to keep the meeting to an hour or less, as volunteers don’t want their time wasted and won’t be as willing to come back. Likewise, start the meeting on time and let everyone know when the meeting is done. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to let the meeting linger and start having side conversations, and then some people are left wondering if they can leave or not. It’s best to signal to everyone when the meeting is officially over, and then let people start their side conversations.
- Define who is in charge. If you won’t be running the meeting yourself, assign a meeting leader. This leader should make sure the meeting is sticking to the agenda but also allowing opinions to be heard. If side conversations start, it is also their job to gently guide everyone back on topic. Remember, volunteers are giving their time and would rather not be barked at.