While most people barely make the effort to create a simple email agenda that gives meeting attendees a heads-up about what will happen in a meeting, you aren’t most people.
You’re a meeting hero, and that means you have an agenda for them, and you also have a detailed facilitator plan for you. It’s clear you’ve been paying attention. Good for you.
Now let’s up your game even more. How do you know your plan is any good? The short answer is that you don’t, but I have an idea for how you can improve your odds.
GET SOME FEEDBACK
That’s it. Run your plan past some people and ask them what they think. In their humble opinions, do they think your plan will work? What haven’t you considered that might trip you up?
Think of it like writing an email to a colleague. When you hit send, it looked great. Later you discovered typos, and the receiver misinterpreted what you wrote. This happens to me much more than I’d like to admit.
It’s easier for others to see your mistakes than it is for you to see your own. While reworking the plan is a pain, it’s much worse to have your meeting blow to pieces, especially when the trouble could have been prevented.
There are three groups of people who can provide useful feedback. Consider tapping any or all of these when putting together a meeting plan.
Most of us know to send out an agenda in advance. My agendas don’t include the how-to details. I keep those on my facilitator plan. But as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. Since they won’t have them, they can’t recognize problems. That means no helpful suggestions for you.
I don’t think you should give everyone the full plan, but you should schedule a quick call with a couple of participants to talk through the agenda in more detail. Tell them what you are planning and ask them for their honest opinions. This can be particularly helpful when done with the participants who are most likely to give you a hard time during the meeting.
What you do within the organization reflects on your manager. She has an interest in your success. Ask her for 10 minutes of her time and run the plan past her. Tell her to point out any concerns or oversights. If her schedule is tight, email her your detailed meeting plan, and ask for ideas about how to strengthen it.
Managers are busy and may not take the time to do what you ask. Turns out they are human too. Even if you don’t get the feedback, people love being asked for their opinion.
One caution: Make sure you’ve got a complete plan prior to going to your manager. You don’t want her to think you’re asking her to take on your work. That could reflect badly on you.
A Neutral Outsider
Talk to coworkers, a spouse, and friends. The less they know about the meeting, the better. Describe your plan and listen to their reactions. Because they aren’t familiar with the situation, they are more likely to ask some pretty basic questions. These are often the questions that uncover your plan’s flaws.
Another option is to ask me to review it. I’ve helped hundreds of clients plan tough meetings. If there’s a problem, I’ll see it. If there are questions you haven’t considered, I’ll ask them. Then you can tune your plan.
If you decide you want more help, I’m also available for agenda development and other support.
Make It the Best Possible Plan
Your plan might be good, but I’m betting it can be better. The trick is to get feedback during the development process. This will help you see what you’ve missed, and provide you with ideas to make it better.