Meeting success is all about how the meeting is organised. From the location to the number of delegates to the objectives – each plays a crucial role in the outcome of the meeting. A meeting needs a clear goal in order to achieve a successful outcome. Set an agenda that determines the objective of the meeting and circulate it to all attendees well before the meeting date. The agenda should only be one page and the most important topics should appear first. Include a start and end time on the agenda and allocate each point a particular amount of time. Don’t allow any of the discussion points to go over the allocated time. Effective meetings start and end on time. If you want anyone to make a presentation, talk about a specific subject or brainstorm make sure you ask them (and get their confirmation!) before the meeting. How many times have you attended a meeting that you felt you shouldn´t be at? Admit it, you sat there thinking about all the other things you could have been achieving, excused yourself early or sent messages from your phone. This is why ensuring the right people are at the meeting is essential. Only invite the people who will contribute to the objective and will help move things forward. Ensure the people who can make any necessary decisions attend. Try not to invite too many people as the more voices there are the longer the meeting will take. Select a location that’s easy for everyone to get to. Book the meeting room in advance and confirm with the venue (internal or external) a couple of days before the date of the meeting. If you’re using an off-site location make sure it´s comfortable and is set up as you wish before the attendees arrive. For example, do you need a projector, stationery, pens, a sound system? These should all be ordered when the meeting is booked. A good meeting venue will check if you need these extras automatically when you make the booking. Order refreshments and lunch if necessary. A light lunch works much better than a heavy meal and keeps people sustained and fresh for the afternoon session. Check if any attendees have a special diet if food is to be served. If the meeting venue you have chosen has outdoor space give people time to break and relax. Attention spans are short and they’ll be much more productive when they return! So often business meetings go off topic. The chairperson should keep everyone focussed and if alternative discussions start it’s their job to bring the meeting back to the key topic. Sometimes it is necessary to discuss an unforeseen topic, in which case the chairperson should ask the delegates if everyone agrees to discuss it for a set time period. Ask someone to take the minutes of the meeting. These don´t always have to be formal minutes, but it is important a correct summary of the meeting is circulated to all the relevant people. This should include any action points and names of people to carry out the action. If you are chairing the meeting ask someone else to take the minutes as recording what has been said and trying to run the meeting is virtually impossible and will waste time.