How To Prepare for a Business Meeting

Updated June 24, 2022

Attending meetings is an important component of a successful workplace. Meetings can be used to provide important information to solve problems, and to offer you direction on projects.

Furthermore, it’s important to make sure that you’re prepared so that the meeting is as effective as possible.

In this article, we will define what a business meeting is and give tips for how best to prepare.

Related: How to Demonstrate Leadership Skills at Work

What is a business meeting?

The purpose of a business meeting is to find out what needs to be achieved to meet your goals, understand the advice that’s needed to complete certain projects, address concerns and provide further updates to your manager. Even though your manager is leading the meeting, it’s vital for you to be prepared to contribute while discussing your team’s objectives.

How to prepare yourself for a business meeting?

Here are six steps to prepare yourself for a business meeting:

  1. Know the type of meeting you are going to attend.

  2. Understand your objectives and meeting attendees.

  3. Review and study the agenda.

  4. Know the meeting location.

  5. Consider potential obstacles.

  6. Determine desirable outcomes and actionable follow-up tasks.

1. Know the type of meeting you are going to attend

There are several different types of meetings that your manager can choose to run so find out in advance what type it is so you can prepare. Here are a few examples of different types of meetings you’ll need to prepare for.

  • Informational: Your manager will spend the majority of the meeting discussing important information that they want to disseminate to you and the team. At the end of the meeting, there may be a brief discussion period in which team members can ask for clarification about anything they didn’t understand or they can talk about how to best use the information.

  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving meetings may need to be held if your team or organization is facing a particularly difficult problem that can only be solved through a team effort. For example, if the problem is related to a client, discuss a work plan to ensure the client’s campaign is fully operational.

  • Consulting: A consulting meeting is one where the chairperson is seeking input from a variety of people about a specific topic. It could be about a strategy, a tactic tied into the strategy or ideas to develop a new one. For example, a consulting meeting can be held if your manager wants input on a new company policy. During the meeting, you can bring up any feedback you have about the policy and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of those changes.

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2. Understand your objectives and meeting attendees

Managers aim to hold quick and efficient meetings to maintain the productivity of their workforce. However, take the time to ensure that you’re clear on your objectives for the meeting. For instance, if there is a problem-solving meeting, you need to be certain that you have a clear view of the problem in advance. It will be a lot easier for you to contribute during the meeting and keep your projects on track to achieve their goal.

Also, check in with your manager to see who the participants are in the meeting and get a clear understanding of your objectives. Once you know who will attend your meeting, you’ll need to know what key roles your coworkers are playing.

Some roles that employees may take on during business meetings include:

  • Timekeeper: The timekeeper verifies that the meeting begins and ends on time and that all items on the agenda are discussed in a timely fashion.

  • Scribe: The scribe records the key details and decisions made during the meeting and may also send their notes to attendees after the meeting.

  • Expert: This is the person who possesses expertise on the topic being discussed. While your manager or your company’s executive can be the expert, this role can also be assigned to another employee working on a specific subject of importance.

  • Facilitator: The facilitator is responsible for guiding the direction of the meeting. The facilitator needs to make sure that all pertinent issues are discussed. The manager or the expert of the meeting can also assume this responsibility.

3. Review and study the agenda

Studying the agenda for a meeting is of the utmost importance no matter what role you play. An agenda helps you recognize the meeting’s progression, an idea of the topics discussed and which talking points to emphasize. For example, an agenda for a consulting meeting could look like this:

  • Describe the new company policy for paid leave.

  • Open discussion about problems with the paid leave policy.

  • Allow time for suggesting changes to the new policy.

  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of suggested changes.

  • Vote on changes.

Depending on the type of meeting, managers may leave the agenda open until it starts. An open agenda allows you to suggest a change prior to the start. This can be a good idea when a participant is thinking of something that hadn’t occurred to you, and suggesting to add their item to the agenda to make the meeting more successful. Regardless, you should make the effort to get a copy of the agenda in advance of your next business meeting. Review each item on the agenda so that you can prepare for the topic of the meeting and potentially come up with changes to the agenda.

4. Know the meeting location

In an office setting, meetings are typically conducted in a conference room so there is a face-to-face interaction between all parties. It’s also an ideal location to incorporate audiovisual tools to communicate with a client or supplier.

Teleconferencing can be a good option for shorter meetings but may not be an ideal choice if the meeting is lengthy or if you’ll need to share a large amount of information. For longer meetings, using an online platform with video conferencing may be a good idea if you need to interact with the participants.

Follow up with your manager on the location, time and additional details of the meeting. There should be a firm date and time for the meeting and there may be a friendly reminder emailed by your manager to all attendees as well.

5. Consider potential obstacles

Obstacles can occur in almost any meeting, so be prepared to encounter obstacles when necessary and put them on the agenda if needed.

If talking points are added to the meeting then it can streamline what issues should be discussed, when they’re discussed and in what manner and tone. Also, an issue can be resolved before the meeting if it’s brought up directly to management, and it decreases the time spent discussing the problem and focuses on a strategic plan that addresses the solution.

You can also help your manager set standards of conduct ahead of the meeting depending on the role you’ll play. Therefore, adding meeting items to an agenda and being in constant communication with your manager on conflicts increases the chances they can be resolved in a timely and efficient fashion.

Ask your manager to prepare some resources for attendees so that everyone has access to the same information when the meeting begins, and it can be properly communicated to the staff from management.

6. Determine desirable outcomes and actionable follow-up tasks

Important decisions need to be made during a meeting with fellow staff members. One of the most common options for decision-making during a meeting is a majority vote. With this system in place, everyone in the meeting will be able to express their opinion. Overall, be sure to address the greater impact that tactics you’re working on will have on meeting a strategy’s goals. This way, you and the team can get clear on the effort required to meet and exceed the strategy’s goals. Therefore, follow-up tasks should be administered to each individual in getting to where they need to be.

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Some examples of follow-up items include:

  • Distribute meeting notes via email when the meeting has concluded.

  • Communicate action items to each member via email by the end of the day.

  • Formulate a standardized method of managing the team’s tasks by the end of the week.

  • File the notes in the internal filing system upon distribution.

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