Feature—Maximizing Time and Place for an Effective Meeting
When planning an effective meeting you have to take a strategic approach. There are two main factors that will determine the success of any meeting—time and place.
Putting Space in Place
Companies waste a ton of money by using venues where they do not use every inch of space they have paid for. It's important to have an outline of every aspect of the meeting, what needs to be accomplished and how much space it will take up. There should be rooms available for the work team, the marketing/social media team — all the parties involved in making the event a success.
Think about this when selecting the venue for your event:
- Is the venue large enough to accommodate all your participants?
- Will there be food served at the venue?
- Is it wired for all the technological equipment you may need?
- Is the venue in an easily accessible locale?
- Where will you store all the materials you need?
- Will your materials be prepared on-site, or will they be brought in?
- What are your contingencies for unexpected emergencies?
These questions are crucial to how well you maximize the space you use. Effective meetings have a variety of modules that can be adapted to the space that will keep everything in a central location. For very large meetings, having a venue that has a large room for the main meeting, smaller rooms for break-out sessions, conference rooms that can house a social media and marketing team, and a smaller ballroom that can be used for breakfast, lunch and snacks will not only work to maximize the space, but will cut costs by not having to pay for an additional venue and will assist in keeping the participants close-by. For out-of-town participants, proximity is key.
Logistics are also a large part of maximizing your space. Make sure the chairs are arranged comfortably, the air is at a normal temperature, all restroom areas are clearly defined and all equipment needed is there at the venue and properly set up. It is wise to arrive well in advance to make sure everything is in place.
Timing is Everything
The pace and timing of the event is critical, especially if there are a number of events that need to take place over the course of a day or two. Every minute matters, so pre-planning is key.
When evaluating time, consider this:
- How many speakers will you have?
The agenda needs to flow. Group presentations that have similar material together to keep the consistency of the meeting going at a good pace. When individuals are already familiar with some of the material, the comprehension level is raised and the time needed to convey the information is shortened.
- How many attendees will you have?
This will determine the size of the room, the order of the space (conference, hollow, theater, U-shape, classroom, long or round tables). This will determine how much time is needed to get everyone registered, checked in, seated and settled prior to the start of the meeting.
- Are there meals involved? How much time will it take to feed everyone and have them back on task?
- What about the agenda?
Plan a run-through of each presentation to make sure there is enough time to present and have a short Q&A. It is important that everyone starts and ends on time. The overall agenda and any pre-work materials should be distributed prior to the meeting so that the session can begin without interruptions.
- Can materials be pre-printed?
If there are any handouts or booklets, having everything together in a bag or notebook for participants to receive upon check-in helps keep everything on track.
- Use a facilitator.
For any meeting, having a competent facilitator on-board will keep everything running smoothly. These are the individuals that know how to keep the meeting moving without massive interruptions or distractions. It is important to stay on topic and limit white noise around the room. Time limitations for each speaker, discussion or Q&A, or activity must be clearly defined.
- Do not wait for latecomers.
Have clearly delineated start, break and end times throughout the meeting and commit to keeping them.. Begin and end as planned.
- Have a timekeeper.
A digital wall clock visible so that each speaker can note the time, and someone in the back of the room who is able to hold up how many minutes they have remaining.
- Treat wrap-up sessions the same way.
Pace each element with a time limit so that any voting or last thoughts can be addressed within the stated time frame.
A quick rule of thumb to keep meetings on track is to always keep in mind (1) the priorities for the meeting, (2) the results you anticipate and (3) the material that needs to be covered.
Share the plan and spread the tasks.
There should be a structured action plan created to review with the event team for both the time and place requirements. This will place responsibilities and tasks with the people that can carry them out effectively. A basic checklist will help maximize time and place for an effective meeting and keep expenditures within budget.