In principle, the three fundamental steps that help make a meeting great are:
1. Plan what you are going to meet about,
2. Actually meet according to the plan, and,
3. Write up the meeting results.
Practical tip: Prior to an upcoming meeting, the meeting facilitator (or whoever is going to run the meeting) and group leaders should huddle and get clear on the meeting objectives, agenda, roles, how it will be recorded, and logistics such as advance notices, space, food, nametags, etc. Talk it through and plan out how each part of the meeting will work. Advance planning increases chances that you will have on hand the things you need for the meeting to go well and sharing the plan in advance increases chances that participants will come prepared and that their expectations will be on target.
Then, run the meeting according to plan, although always prepared to be flexible and responsive to things unplanned. Meeting according to plan provides security for participants. After, provide participants with a write up that is more than a simple, chronological transcript. Organize the thoughts and stories shared, name the themes discussed, and format the write-up so it is pleasant to read and easy to refer to later. In the write-up you can provide a logical organizational structure even if things seemed quite confusing during the actual meeting.
Don’t skimp on the pre-planning or the post-write up. These are the two things that often distinguish a great meeting from a mediocre meeting.
– Craig Freshley