The average person spends about 11 seconds reading an email. If you’re sending out meeting invites, you have about this much time to capture your invitees’ attention and communicate goals and key coverage points. A quick yet informative email can give your invitees everything they need to prepare for your meeting while keeping your word count low. This means less for you to write – and for your team to read. Keep the following tips handy to help you get the ball rolling on setting up a meeting.
- The core to setting up a meeting
- How to decide if you need a meeting
- 7 Steps for setting up a successful meeting
- 3 Key templates for setting up a meeting
A meeting agenda—the core to setting up a meeting
Creating a meeting agenda is a key step toward a successful meeting. In your agenda, you’ll organize your talking points and allot a timeframe for each part. This structure can help you keep your and your invitees’ suggestions on the table so everyone’s ideas are discussed.
To expedite your planning process, Fellow has a meeting agenda template for just about every type of meeting. You can structure your meeting through these ready-to-use templates and help keep your team organized before, during, and after your meeting.
How to decide if you need a meeting
“This could have been an email.” Your employees (and even you) have probably had this thought before. On average, people attend about 11 to 15 meetings every week. That abundance of meetings can make disorganized or unclear meetings feel all the less engaging.
That’s why you should make sure your meetings truly help your team. You need to be 100% confident your meeting has an important purpose rather than veering on useless. Below are some valid reasons to hold a meeting.
- Discussion. If you want input from your team in the form of a conversation or brainstorming session, holding a meeting might be a good idea. Such conversations can get lengthy and confusing via email. Calling a meeting instead allows you and your team to collectively explore ideas.
- Decision-making. A meeting can be useful if you’re facing a big decision that could affect your team. Asking for everyone’s input on how to proceed can foster productive discussion and help you arrive at the best decision for all parties.
- Informing. A meeting can be a great opportunity to share important information with your team. For example, you might need to explain the concept behind a new workflow strategy or present highlights from a quarterly sales report. By holding a meeting, you can present this information to your team members, answer questions, and provide explanations to the entire group at once.
7 Steps for setting up a successful meeting
Once you’ve decided that you do need to hold a meeting, you’ll need to set up your event. No, that doesn’t mean adding time-consuming tasks to your to-do list – take a breather! In reality, the process can be quite simple. Below are 8 steps to help you efficiently reach out to your team and set up a meeting.
- Send an email invite
- Explain your meeting’s purpose
- Create a meeting agenda
- Share the meeting agenda in advance
- Be flexible about your meetings
- Ask for a reply or confirmation
- Send a reminder email
1 Send an email invite
To start crafting your invite, create a direct and engaging email subject line. This way, your invitees will clearly know your meeting’s topic. For example, you can write, “Wednesday’s 2:30 sales analysis meeting” or “Your invite to the 11/02 team meeting.” Each of these examples gives your invitees basic information they can quickly add to their calendars without having to sift through rows of text.
If you’re sending a meeting request to people outside your everyday team, you should start your email with a brief introduction. For example, you can say, “I’m Amy Wilson, manager of data company Collier Premier Solutions, and I’d like to invite you to a brief meeting.”
Make your email conversational by starting it with a warm greeting to your recipients. If you’re holding a formal meeting, like a board meeting, your greeting can be as dry as “Hello,” For more casual meetings such as one-on-ones or scrums, a quick “Hey” can add a sprinkle of personality. If you’re inviting one person to your meeting, you should include their name in your greeting. (After all, you address people by name in person.) For example, you could say, “Dear Ms. X” or “Hello Y.” However, if you’re addressing your email to a group of people, start it with something like, “Hi team” or “Hello everyone.”
2 Explain your meeting’s purpose
After you write your introduction (if necessary), you should tell your invitees why you’re calling your meeting. To help them understand your meeting’s importance, consider starting the body of your email with a meeting purpose statement. An effective purpose statement clearly explains the reason you’ve decided to hold a meeting.
For example, you could say, “I would like you to attend a meeting to assign responsibilities for our upcoming marketing campaign.” Another example would be, “The purpose of this meeting is to choose three candidates for our internship program.” This purpose statement immediately illuminates the “why” behind your meeting. It gives your invitees an idea of what to expect during the meeting and how they can best prepare.
3 Create a meeting agenda
A meeting agenda is an ordered list of all the topics, action items, and talking points you’ll discuss during the meeting. It should also include who’s in charge of each talking point and how long each point will take to discuss. Having an agenda will help your meeting stay on track and give it a clear purpose. It’s basically a table of contents for a conversation.
Once you fill out your meeting agenda template, make sure you send it to everyone before the meeting. This way, your team can look over the agenda and write down any questions they may want to address during the meeting.
4 Share the meeting agenda in advance
You should share your meeting agenda with your attendees well in advance. This way, everyone can come prepared to contribute to the discussion. Sending the agenda in advance also invites attendees to give their feedback on planned talking points and suggest any additional points. You should implement these suggestions when appropriate to show your team that you’re listening to them and acting on their ideas.
5 Be flexible about your meeting’s time and location
If your meeting will be in person, allow your invitees to have a say in your meeting’s location. Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, have everyone respond with their preference for a meeting start time. This way, you can make your meeting convenient for most of your invitees and maximize attendance.
To collaborate on your meeting plan, send your invitees open slots in your calendar. Then, ask them to choose the dates and times that best suit their schedules. You can then schedule your meeting during the time slot that received the most votes.
6 Ask for a reply or confirmation
Place a note in your meeting memo or the body of your email asking your invitees to confirm their attendance. These confirmations can help you keep an accurate tally of who will attend so you can adequately prepare.
The number of people at your meeting can change its whole dynamic, not to mention how you prepare. Your attendance affects the choice between an office or conference room, your allocation of time among talking points, and your icebreaker activities. Give your invitees a deadline by which to indicate attendance so you’re not adjusting your plans at the last minute.
7 Send a reminder email
Between responsibilities at home, tasks at work, and everything in between, everyone’s busy all the time. It’s only inevitable, then, that things will accidentally slip through the cracks. For meetings to go missed, though, is a big problem! Sending a reminder email to your invitees can help prompt them to add the meeting to their calendar. These emails can also serve as regular reminders for recurring meetings.
You should send email reminders every time someone confirms their attendance. Your reminders should include your meeting’s date, time, and location. It should also reinforce any key information in your original invitation. Be sure to note any materials that attendees should bring or read up on beforehand.
Your reminder should be just short enough to gently nudge your invitees to add your meeting to their calendars if they haven’t already. If any meeting details have changed, you should note these adjustments in your reminder email. Include the word “updates” or “changes” in your subject line to catch your recipients’ attention.
3 Key templates for setting up a meeting
Below are some templates to help you set up a meeting. These are templates that we here at Fellow have developed – and that hundreds of team leaders like yourself have used. We’ve chosen to highlight the below three in particular:
- Brainstorming meeting. To set up meetings where you and your team collaborate and innovate, use our brainstorming meeting agenda template.
- Quarterly planning. Every three months, you and your team should look at the previous quarter and recalibrate. Doing so is a lot easier if you set up your meeting with our quarterly planning meeting template.
- SMART goal-setting. Both brainstorming and quarterly planning sessions proceed much more smoothly if you set the right goals. With our SMART goal-setting meeting template, you can do exactly that.
Setting up for success
With the tips above, setting up your next meeting should be a breeze. As you prepare to send out meeting requests, keep your invitees in mind. Compose emails that are concise and ask your recipients to reply with their suggestions and confirmations. As you do so, Fellow can help you prepare a meeting agenda, plan creative icebreakers, and do everything else required for productive and engaging meetings.