Getting a meeting feels like a win. To make the feeling reality, put some work in beforehand.

  1. Research the attendees.

You probably know the basic information about your attendees. If not, then why would you even book the meeting in the first place? But with so much information at your fingertips there’s no excuse for not knowing pretty much everything about them. Set aside an hour or so to Google them and research their business. Check out their bios and social channels on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. Understand who they are, what they bring to the table and how you can help them. This will cut down the time spent on introductions and give you the insights needed to have a more effective meeting.

  1. Set clear objectives.

The objectives of the meeting should be crystal clear from the get-go. Simply asking “What is the purpose of this meeting?” helps you set your objectives. If the question can be answered with five words or fewer you’re on the right track.

  1. Set agenda and time allocation for each item.

The best way to achieve your objective is to have an agenda. It’s going to provide the direction of the meeting. It’s going to let the attendees know what to expect. Every part of the meeting should have a sub-agenda with key points and milestones. Set time limits on each agenda, including time for contributions from the attendees. This ensures that the meeting stays on-point so that it doesn’t overrun.

  1. Understand the expected outcomes.

Make sure that everyone is clear on why the meeting is important. Focus on the impact on all the parties involved. Unlike your objective, this looks into the big picture strategy. The reason this is important is because it will keep the attendee engaged. The last thing you want is for them to believe that the meeting was useless.

  1. Stay on-top of the news.

Watch the news and scan relevant headlines prior to the meeting for everything relevant to you, the attendee and their company. Be certain you are informed and proactive.

  1. Confirm the meeting.

The day before the meeting reach out to your point of contact to confirm the date, time, location and attendees. This prevents any miscommunication between the parties involved, such as getting time or locations confused, and shows you’re organized and on-top of things.

If meeting in-person, don’t forget to confirm conference room. It would be embarrassing and unprofessional if you arrived and the room was already booked.

  1. Send out the agenda prior to the meeting.

Provide background information for your participants to ensure they will engage in productive discussions and allot the appropriate amount of time for the meeting. Send specific instructions on the actions that you would like them to take before the meeting. Ask them to brainstorm ideas, gather relevant information or send reports for review.

  1. Test run your meeting.

Finally, complete a test run of your meeting. This includes making sure that you’re familiar with the tools you’re going to use. Remember, various web meeting solutions support different types of documents. So you need to make sure that they support the file types you use. If not, you may have to switch solutions or convert the documents.

Additionally, practice the meeting with a colleague or spouse – regardless if it’s online or in-person. You want to make sure that your message or pitch is professional, concise, and interesting. It also ensures that you have all of the right materials and equipment prepared for the meeting.