You’ve prepared for an important meeting. The agenda has been sent out to all the participants and you’re ready to rock ‘n roll…or are you?
Before you leave your office, use this handy checklist to make sure you have thought through all the details to leading or facilitating an extraordinarily productive meeting:
- Tables – Is this a quick stand-up meeting or huddle? You won’t need tables! Otherwise, make sure there is sufficient work space to accomplish the agenda.
- Chairs – Have enough for each participant plus two. You can even be a little creative with audience-centered seating.
- Signage – Hang a sign on/by the door so the participants know they are in the right place.
- Temperature – Know how to adjust the heating & ventilation controls.
- Lighting – Ensure there is adequate lighting, learn to control the lighting (dimmer switch or master panel?) and make sure all lights are working.
- Refreshments – Water is nice, and people tend to bond over food!
- Electrical outlets – If everyone is bringing a laptop for an eight-hour meeting, you might want to consider the availability of electrical outlets and/or use an “octopus.”
- Name tents/tags – If the participants don’t know each other, consider creating name tags or name tents to make it easier to learn the names.
- “Stuff” – Bring any materials, products, projects, or work samples – especially if you are going to refer to or use it!
- Stickie pads – A great tool for brainstorming!
- Pens – Have these available for people to take notes or write on the stickie pads.
- Removable dots – Have these handy for impromptu voting.
- If using a multimedia projector:
- Make sure there is a stand or table for the projector AND the laptop.
- You may need to bring an extension cord if the electrical outlets aren’t very close to the projector.
- You’ll need a clean projection screen or a blank wall. (Seems obvious, but I’ve run into a few situations where we were casting about for a screen at the last minute!)
- Do a dry run to make sure the projector is positioned correctly for the screen size, focus is adjusted and the slides are visible with the room lighting configuration.
- If it’s your projector, always carry a working spare light bulb. You just never know!
- Some systems are integrated with an HD screen and remote controls. Make sure you either 1) know how to work the system or 2) you’ll have an A/V person there to set it up
- Regardless, make sure you have the right connectors. It might be a standard pin serial cable or an HDMI cable. I use a MacBook, so I bring both adaptors with me as well.
- Bring a handheld remote if you are advancing slides during a presentation. Some like to bring a laser pointer – and many remotes have a laser pointer built in. My personal favorite is the Interlink.
Easel Paper – If you are going to capture information in real time, you may want to use easel paper (otherwise known as “flipcharts”).
- Paper – Make sure you have enough paper to accomplish the task. If you are using adhesive-backed paper, test the adhesive on the wall. It won’t stick to fabric very well, so you may need to use another method to post the papers on the wall.
- Masking tape – I used to carry masking tape with me, until a client claimed that I had ripped the wallpaper in a posh boardroom. (I know I didn’t, but what can I say?) So now, I always carry blue painters tape with me.
- Stick pins – Sometimes, tape just won’t work, so I bring a little box of upholstery T stick pins with me for those weird paneled or fabric walls.
- Easel – Get a sturdy easel that you can write on (I use Quartet easels whenever I can). There is a difference between an easel that holds up a directional sign vs. an easel that you write on.
- Markers – If you are writing on a dry-erase whiteboard, make sure you are using the correct markers! And if you are writing on paper, use watercolor markers that won’t bleed through the paper. I always use Mr. Sketch markers – and they smell good too!
Lastly, don’t forget to grab your facilitator kit – a little bag of goodies that you may need during the meeting – and away you go!
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Kristin Arnold is a professional meeting facilitator and international speaker who is passionate about helping leaders and their teams think things through, make better decisions and achieve sustainable results. The Extraordinary Team’s approach to building high performance teams combines consulting, coaching, training and process facilitation within the context of working real issues.