backAll Articles

Planning for Planning: How to Prepare for a Great Annual Planning Meeting

3 min read
annual planning

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Published August 27, 2019

annual planning

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Picture of Paige Wilcox

Paige Wilcox
the Client Services Manager at Rhythm Systems

What makes an Annual Planning session successful? Meaningful discussion around the right topics isannual planning a start, but you don't get there by happy accident. To maximize your team's valuable time, you want to make sure your session is set up for success. Here are some tips to lead into the session prepared to make significant breakthroughs in the year ahead.

  1. Set the Date — You should take at least two days (or more) to give the team enough time to discuss, debate and agree on the right Annual Initiatives for the coming year. Try to schedule the session to take place before the year actually starts.
  2. Select the Facilitator — It can be tricky to be both the facilitator and a contributing participant in the planning session, so you may want to select someone outside of your team to be the facilitator.
  3. Select the Location — Don't let your team get distracted by your day jobs. This is easier to do when the planning session is offsite and away from the office so that people aren't tempted to step away from the session or get pulled into other meetings, etc.
  4. Choose a Meeting Coordinator — This person can be your go-to for Internet, printing, equipment, meal, etc. planning and questions. Some items the coordinator can help secure for the meeting may include:
    1. Projector with a power cord
    2. Extension cord (if necessary for the projector)
    3. Large screen or monitor (and proper cables to connect with the facilitator's computer, if needed)
    4. Large flip chart (preferably with paper that can stick to the wall) and easel
    5. Post-its (enough for each participant)
    6. Markers
    7. Handouts
  5. Email Agenda & Prep Work to Attendees — Share the Agenda so everyone knows when/where to be and what to expect, and don't skip on sharing prep work (to be completed ahead of time), too! This gets people thinking in the week before the meeting, which will make the actual session all the more productive as everyone's minds will be warmed up and ready to dive into discussion. You can ask the team to consider Start/Stop/Keeps ideas (what should the company start doing this year, stop doing and keep doing?), reflect on Opportunities and Threats, put pen to paper on what really stands out as being important to discuss for the next year, and anything else that would be relevant. Again, the intention of prep work is to get people thinking—it shouldn't be long and burdensome busy work.

Want to get started on planning your agenda? Check out our Strategy Planning Facilitation services here! We'd love to ensure you get the most value out of your time, or read a few more planning tips.

Download Free
Annual Planning Guide

Looking for more Annual Planning information to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:

How to Conduct an Annual Planning Meeting

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team with a Great Plan

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Best Practices for Annual Planning

Learn More About Our Strategic Planning Facilitation Services

Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Resource Center

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images