How to Prepare for a Meeting

If you’re someone who is responsible or taking the minutes of the meeting, as the administrative professional, you’ll need to know how to prepare for a meeting including understanding the purpose of the meeting, the type of meeting you’re planning, gathering the list of attendees, creating the agenda, sending out the meeting notice and preparing and circulating the minutes.

How to Prepare for a Meeting

1. Discuss the Purpose of the Meeting 

The most important item to plan for a successful meeting begins will be to discuss the purpose of the meeting and the duties you need to perform with your supervisor or manager.  The person calling the meeting usually states the purpose of the meeting but as the administrative professional you must understand the purpose of the meeting so appropriate arrangements can be made.

2. Determine the Type of Meeting

The planning can begin once you determine the type of meeting. Meetings can be informal or formal depending on whether they are weekly staff meetings or a quarterly board of directors meeting. Will the meeting be face to face, hybrid or completely remote?  Also, will this be a one time meeting or a recurring meeting? Read this blog post on What are the Different Types of Meetings to get an overview of the different types of meetings possible in an organization.

3. Create a meeting attendee list

Before you can begin to plan the meeting location, you will need to know how many attendees there will be, their names, email addresses and other contact details. You will also need to know if any of the attendees will need any special accommodations or accessibility requirements. Items to be aware of are:

  • Number of Attendees
  • Attendee names and their contact details
  • Are there any special accommodations required?
  • What do the attendees need to prepare in advance?
  • Will any of the potential attendees be absent?
  • Do any of the attendees have any suggestions of items to include on the agenda?

4. Confirm the Date, Time, Venue and Attendees

While your supervisor or executive will usually establish the date, as the administrative professional, you may find yourself responsible for establishing the appropriate time and place based on when all participants can attend.

Once you know the type of meeting you’re tasked with planning, have your attendees list in place and know whether any special accommodations are required, you can determine where the meeting can take place and invite the attendees with some proposed dates and times for the meeting.

Your choice of meeting venue will depend on the type of meeting, how many attendees there will be and any special accommodations that may be required. You will also need to decide on what equipment is needed and the types of seating and layout required. For example, will you need a venue that accommodate boardroom seating, cabaret seating, classroom seating, etc. or will your meeting be held teleconference, Skype or Microsoft Teams?

5. Create the Meeting Agenda

One of the purposes of the agenda is to keep the meeting running and on track and covering the objectives in the correct sequence. The agenda also lets the attendees know in advance what will be discussed at the meeting and how to prepare, therefore, the agenda does need to be prepared in advance of the meeting date.

Before sending out the meeting invitation, use Notebook to build an agenda of subjects to be discussed and by whom. You could also use Microsoft Word or even Google Docs to create the agenda, by using tables and bulleted lists.

The following items should be on the meeting agenda:

  • Name of Company or Department Holding the meeting and location
  • Day, Date and Time of the Meeting
  • Objectives or Action Items to be Discussed
  • The responsible party for each agenda item

Instead of writing everything down with pen and paper or creating an agenda in Word and then emailing it as an attachment, one of the more efficient ways to prepare an agenda for a meeting is to use OneNote. Your manager or executive will usually provide you with the agenda items. You will then be required to create the agenda and distribute it before the meeting.

The agenda will list the objectives or topics to be discussed and who is responsible for them. Agendas can be informal or formal, depending on the type of meeting being held. To learn about the different styles of agendas and the agenda templates available in OneNote, read our blog post on how to create a meeting agenda using OneNote.

6. Send out Meeting Invitations and distribute the Meeting Agenda

While there’s no set time to send out a meeting agenda, sending it out in advance of the meeting will be key to giving the attendees plenty of time to prepare.

One of the most efficient ways of sending out meeting invitations is to use scheduling software like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.  There are several programs on the market today that will allow you to select a range of dates on a calendar and send them to the attendees who are expected to attend the meeting.  The attendees can then pick the dates and times that work best for them and reply.  Based on this information, you would then select the best time for the meeting.  

How to Prepare for the Meeting by Scheduling your Meeting in Outlook

Once you’ve create your agenda, you are ready to send a link to your meeting invitation to the attendees.

  1. From the Home Tab on the Ribbon, select “New Item” > Meeting.
Create a New Meeting in Outlook

2. In the “to” field, add the attendees to the meeting

3. Enter a Subject and Location

4. Select a Start time and an End Time or select Scheduling Assistant to check the availability for all the attendees and pick a time.

5. On the Meetings Tab, Click Meeting Notes from the Meeting Notes group and select the Agenda and any notes you created in Onenote.

Insert a OneNote Meeting Agenda into Outlook.

A link to your agenda will be included in the body of the email as shown below. Click the Send button to send your meeting notice.

Link to your OneNote Meeting Agenda in Outlook.

How to Prepare for a Meeting Further Training

To improve your office skills  today, take the Administrative Office Professional online course or the Soft Skills Training for Administrative Professionals on officeskills.org.

This course is taught in the Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. The Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom is a fun and interactive way to learn Soft Skills. Get the benefit of learning online while being in a classroom environment with an instructor, other students, discussion forums, chat rooms, lectures, presentations and video demonstrations.