Remember having day-long planning sessions where everyone got together to figure out a problem or map out your plans for the next quarter or year?
If you haven’t had to do this yet (don’t worry it’s coming) but if you have one on the horizon and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few pointers.
- Pre-Preparation – yes pre-preparation, before the session begins, identify what you need people to do before they get there, what information do you need to have in hand so you can anticipate people’s questions and directions.
- Start with the people – only invite people that will contribute open, honest information about the session – you don’t need fancy talk that can’t be backed up by action.
- Direction – if no one knows why they are there, they won’t know what to do. The first of your slides should very clearly establish why you are there.
- Materials – if you’re doing this remotely and all through Teams or Zoom, I recommend a second laptop to reduce context switching – one for running the actual session, another for taking notes and capturing information.
- Your role – you are the executor of this session, which means you set the tone and you control the flow. If side discussions are starting, you need to can them for future sessions, if people are getting off topic, you need to bring them back.
Lastly, the best advice I can give you is to run through the session, multiple times, in your head – do dry runs, anticipate questions, you know the people, you know what they want to get out of it – do the good, the bad and the ugly.
Planning sessions are not only the best way to plan what is coming but to get your team excited, onboard, and ready to roll.