Your meeting checklist: 10 tips for preparing for (and nailing) an important work meeting

Preparing for a big meeting at work? Here’s everything you can do to successfully plan and execute an important pitch or business meeting.

Updated on 06 December 2021 • Written By Megan Murray

Your meeting checklist: 10 tips for preparing for (and nailing) an important work meeting

We all know how nerve-wracking it can be in the build-up to an important meeting. Whether it be speaking to your boss, sharing ideas with the team or hosting clients, preparation is key to seamlessly deliver that pitch or push for a pay rise. 

These moments aren’t just about an individual project or idea, they’re about selling yourself and building your reputation in your company or industry for the future. After all, when you smash a presentation out of the park, it builds your confidence for upcoming opportunities.

However, with the weight of such an event on your shoulders, it can be easy to become stressed and forgetful – and as they say, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. That’s why we’ve broken down the steps to ensure that your plan is fool proof, with tips and advice on executing it perfectly.

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From choosing the right venue for your meeting or the perfect spot for drinks out with a client, to a thorough tech test well in advance and, of course, practising your pitch, this meeting checklist will help you stay on top of your game.

Be sure of the meeting’s purpose

First, ask yourself – is this meeting absolutely necessary? No one likes their time being wasted and so determining exactly what this meeting’s purpose is will help you decide who needs to be in it, the appropriate venue, and is crucial when writing up the agenda. Try working backwards, outlining what you’d like to achieve and hoped outcomes, this will ensure that the right people come along.

Create a clear agenda

Putting together an agenda, based on what you hope to achieve in the meeting and what you would like everyone attending to share, will help you understand how long the meeting will go on for and the type of space you need for it.

Create a rough draft of timings, imagining how long attendees will speak for and what will be shared. This is also a good time to be communicative with attendees, checking in on their availability and their expectations, all of which will be helpful when choosing the venue.

Choose the right venue

Your venue is key for ensuring that you have the right facilities in order to deliver your message, making sure everyone is comfortable and that the atmosphere is right.

For example, if you’re entertaining clients you might want to opt for a private dining room to give you the privacy to discuss business while enjoying some delicious food. London is a great place to do this, as the capital has a wealth of sophisticated private dining options, while Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool have impressive offerings, too.

However, if you need a meeting room then consider what kind of tech it will need to support, how big the space is and how many people it can seat, as well as facilities for presenting and how aesthetically pleasing it needs to be.

Check out the space first

Seeing the venue in person well in advance of the meeting is crucial for a number of reasons. We would advise viewing the venue before you book anything and ensuring that it looks as nice as in the pictures, the toilet and food facilities are adequate, as well as the space and seating being up to scratch.

Once booked, you might want to ask the venue if you can do a quick run through and check that the equipment is digitally compatible by connecting your laptop or using the sound system. The last thing you want is to be fiddling around with your laptop on the day, apologising for a lack of sound or connection to screens. 

Plan your route in advance (and make it failsafe)

If you’ve had chance to visit the venue then you should have tested the route already, which is crucial. Always have a back-up plan, the number of a reliable taxi company and check the local news for any disruptions well before you set off.

Prepare everything you need in good time

It’s a no-brainer, but sometimes the simplest things are easily forgotten. For example, pack your bag the night before and prepare a selection of outfits readily ironed so that you’re not scrambling around in the morning.

Mentally walk through the day and tick off everything you might need – from a breakfast bar if you’ll need some energy beforehand to having essentials such as a face mask or work pass ready. The last thing you need on a stressful day is to be running around looking for your keys.

Always bring a paper copy

The digital age has transformed the way we work and while most of us need laptops and phones to do our jobs, in the event of a technical glitch no one wants to be caught off-guard with nothing to share.

Always print out paper copies of presentations, agendas, meeting notes and imagery of what you’re sharing to ensure that if there is a problem you can still deliver your points. Print a few of everything so that there are enough sheets to go around, and even keep a few notebooks and pens in your bag just in case.

Get presentation lessons

If you’re presenting to a group, it’s a good idea to get some professional help to ensure that you are able to put yourself across in the best possible way. From grounding your weight evenly on your feet, to speaking slower than you usually would, a coach can share simple tips to make presenting easier and more effective.

Continue to practise at home

Practise really does make perfect. Talk your presentation through at home as many times as possible to nail the flow and memorise as much as you can. This will help your delivery to feel more natural and allow for some spontaneity. You can also use your phone to time yourself speaking and try to trim it down to cut out any extra waffle.

Ensure everyone knows their roles

It’s important that attendees feel at ease so that you can all get the most out of your meeting together. Use your previous notes from the agenda to understand what each person hopes to achieve and communicate clearly about when they will be speaking and what about.

Send a thorough plan of what will be happening on the day around, and include the best directions for the venue, as well as details of catering or nearby lunch spots.

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