By: Amanda Carey
Meeting planning can be stressful, even if you’re planning a small meeting. Although assisting with other meetings can help prepare you, nothing can give you a better experience then jumping head first into planning YOUR first meeting. When I was given the task to take the reins on my first meeting, I was excited but definitely nervous. This is what my college degree and my experience had been working towards. Here are 5 tips I found to help your first meeting function smoothly.
- STAY ORGANIZED
I can’t stress this enough. Make a calendar of tasks and prioritize them in order of importance. Be sure to give yourself more than enough time to complete each. Make calendar reminders, have a hardcopy calendar you can constantly glance at, and make folders for each aspect of the meeting (hotel, speakers, food and beverage, etc.) readily available.
- Get to Know your Contacts
It will help you to feel more comfortable communicating with your contacts if you get to know them a little before starting to work with them. Send a personalized email introducing yourself, add them to your contacts list, and know what each person’s role is in your meeting planning process. Your contacts also include your meeting’s presenters and speakers, so don’t forget to be attentive to them!
- Order Supplies and Materials in Advanced
Nothing will add on more of an inconvenience and time than forgetting that you needed to order supplies in order to execute your meeting. For example, if you need to send materials to attendees prior to the meeting, be sure you have adequately ordered enough supplies to avoid any last minute rushes to the office supply store. Make a detailed list of all materials needed onsite and prior and think about what additional resources are needed to possibly get those materials to your meeting site (boxes, bubble wrap, etc.)
- Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
As this is the first meeting I have planned on my own, I was certainly going to have a lot of questions. I am fortunate to have an office full of seasoned meeting planners who are willing to answer my questions. We all know what happens when you assume…
- Proof all your Materials
No one would be persuaded to attend your “Annual Meating,” unless this was a pun for a beef convention. It is so important to proof your work and even ask for a second opinion. Lack of proofing can result in appearing unprofessional, create confusion and worst case scenario may require spending additional money re-printing materials.
Meeting planning can also be extremely rewarding when the outcome is executed without a hitch. My first meeting is set to start in mid-September and I am confident that the planning process will lead to a good outcome.