Planning meetings can help establish the goals and timeline for a company initiative or project. If you're running the meeting, you'll need to invite other employees to be a part of the meeting. Planning meetings are important because they give a clear sense of direction to the group on the steps necessary to finish the project.
In this article, we answer what a planning meeting is, when to have one, how to manage planning meetings and tips for successfully conducting a meeting.
What is a planning meeting?
A planning meeting is when a group of employees at a company comes together to discuss plans for a new project. During the planning meeting, participants will create plans, commit to the plan and discuss the scope of the project. The goal of a planning meeting is to make important decisions and assign tasks to each member of the team so they can work on them over the course of the timeline that the group has developed.
When to have a planning meeting
Since the purpose of a planning meeting is to decide on the next steps for a new project, you should hold one once there is an idea for a workplace initiative. Try to plan the meeting when most employees and managers who will be involved have the time to dedicate to getting together to discuss the first steps. Host a planning meeting once leadership has given you a budget and key stakeholders have approved the project. You'll be discussing goals, the scope of the project and the timeline the team should follow, so the sooner you can have a planning meeting, the better.
How to manage a planning meeting
To ensure your meeting is as productive and efficient as possible, follow these steps for managing a planning meeting:
- Form a planning committee
- Include an icebreaker
- Establish a timeline
- Decide on vendors
- Assign tasks and due dates
1. Form a planning committee
Your planning committee should include anyone who will be responsible for part of the initiative, as well as anyone who needs to make important decisions to propel the project forward. If you find that you missed an employee, you can always request they attend the next meeting and provide them with the meeting notes so they are as informed as everyone else in the group.
2. Include an icebreaker
It's likely that some meeting attendees don't know each other, so starting with an icebreaker can get everyone more comfortable with one another. Icebreakers also help introduce a bit of fun into the day so the meeting can start strong with engaged attendees.
3. Establish a timeline
Every good initiative or project has a timeline for all involved to adhere to. The timeline should be realistic, manageable by all parties and allow for any deviations your group may run into. Also, take into account the other projects members of the team may be working on.
4. Decide on vendors
As a group, decide if you'll need to hire outside vendors to complete the project. Establish a vendor budget and discuss how many vendors you'll need. For example, if you are planning an end-of-the-year office party for the whole company, you may need food and entertainment vendors. If you are updating the company website, you may need to work with an SEO company that specializes in search engine optimization of online content.
5. Assign tasks and due dates
As the meeting is moving along, assign tasks to members of the group. Consider using a project management system or put one member of the group in charge of leading everyone toward project completion. At the end of the meeting, schedule a follow-up meeting so everyone remains on schedule and knows what they are responsible for.
10 tips for successfully conducting a meeting
It's important to keep employees engaged while they are in a meeting. Here are 10 best practices for conducting an effective and efficient meeting with your team:
- Only invite necessary employees
- Remind everyone of the meeting
- Develop an agenda
- Prepare attendees
- Start on time and adhere to the schedule
- Only cover what's needed
- Encourage team discussions
- Utilize different methods
- Decide on the best way to conduct the meeting
- Share meeting notes
Only invite necessary employees
The best way to ensure employees stay engaged is by inviting them to a meeting only when they are needed. Try only to invite necessary employees so that everyone in attendance is a stakeholder in the project or plan that the group will be discussing. This should help the meeting move along at a quicker pace, encourage collaborative discussions and keep all employees informed.
Remind everyone of the meeting
It's best practice to remind everyone about the meeting. Remind them of where and when the meeting is taking place and anything they should bring along. This will help everyone be better prepared, arrive on time and come with talking points for the group.
Develop an agenda
To help the meeting run smoothly, develop an agenda to follow. While it's acceptable to deviate from the agenda, having an agenda will keep you on task. It will also help you follow a schedule and only take up the time you need for the meeting. Consider sharing the agenda with all attendees before the meeting so they know what to expect and can come prepared with talking points if they'd like.
Your agenda can include the objective of the meeting, the attendees you expect and the topics you'll be covering. If there are attendees who are responsible for certain topics, place their names next to the topic on the agenda so these employees can prepare to cover it during the meeting.
Prepare attendees by letting them know how the meeting will go. Share if the meeting will be a presentation or group discussion where attendees will need to participate. Let them know if they should take notes or if slides will be available to them after the meeting. Try to make sure they understand any expectations you may have for them when it comes to how prepared they are for the meeting.
Being timely means two things:
- Starting on time and adhering to the schedule. This shows you are cognizant and respectful of everyone's time and that you prepared for the meeting you're in charge of.
- Discussing relevant topics. If there is a certain topic that everyone in the office is talking about, a meeting can be an ideal platform to address any issues, questions, concerns or ideas. You may want to prioritize relevant topics above all else.
By starting on time, adhering to the schedule and discussing relevant topics, attendees should also be respectful of the time in exchange and less distracted by latecomers or deviations from the agenda.
Only cover what's necessary
Your meeting should have an overarching topic, whether that be how to improve a process in the workplace, a new procedure for answering customer inquiries or a motivation meeting all about the company's culture. Try to stay on topic to ensure everyone in the meeting remains focused and that you use the meeting time efficiently.
Encourage team discussions
A meeting can be more engaging if you encourage team discussions. They also provide employees an opportunity to collaborate or introduce new ideas to the group. You can still encourage team participation during a slideshow presentation by incorporating a question and answer portion of the meeting.
Utilize different formats
It can be helpful to incorporate different formats and strategies into the meeting to keep attendees engaged. Try using technology to introduce videos, graphics and other elements that keep people interested. You may also consider having a couple of breakout sessions during a longer meeting so employees can get up, move around, grab a snack or some water and chat with their coworkers.
Decide on the best way to conduct the meeting
Depending on who is attending, the space you have and the technology available to you, decide on the best way to conduct the meeting. You can conduct a meeting via phone or videoconferencing, in-person or even a combination where you include any remote employees by live video.
Share meeting notes
Assign someone to take meeting notes and share those notes with all attendees post-meeting. This will serve as a recap and reference piece for everyone if they have lingering questions or need a refresher of what you discussed. Be sure to include action items and due dates, if appropriate.