How to collect questions before a meeting

People may have a lot of opinions about meetings, but most agree that they’re usually boring.

A major cause of boredom is lack of engagement. The person leading the meeting often talks at the group about subjects that may be of no interest or relevance to the audience. It might be interesting for the speaker, but not so much for the crowd of glassy-eyed onlookers.

One way to maintain interest and attention is to allow participants to interact with one another, but that can quickly turn into free-for-all. Unless you have some strict rules in place, a lot of interaction can make the meeting drag on for much longer than expected.

The best approach is to streamline your meetings by gathering data from participants ahead of time. That goes for digital and in-person meetings. And it’s applicable to any kind of meeting, in any field. Here’s how to do it.

Create a question collection form

One of the best ways to automate and streamline communication is with a digital form tool like Jotform. Jotform is feature-rich and cost-effective, and it makes it easy to get feedback through forms.

The first step, of course, is to sign up. All Jotform features are included with any plan — even the free Starter plan. Paid tiers offer higher limits on the number of forms and submissions you can have, among other benefits.

The next step is to create a form. If you’ve ever used any web-based software, you should be able to pick it up in a few minutes. If not, there’s a helpful and thorough guide for getting started.

To get started quickly, click Create Form, then From Scratch, and then Classic Form. Next, you’ll want to add fields.

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To create the form above, just drag and drop the Full name, Email, and Long Text fields into the form from the list of form elements on the left side of the screen. 

That could be enough for your purposes. It’s easy to create and will be easy for your meeting attendees to fill out.

But it’s still pretty open-ended and vague. You may want to add a few details about the meeting so people can stay on topic, or you can add topic options to the form.

Empower attendees with topics

By adding topics to your form, you’ll give attendees a better idea of what you’ll discuss in the meeting. That will help them be more prepared going into it. It can also help you prepare to answer their questions on specific topics.

To add a list of topics, just add a Dropdown field to the form and enter your topics. With the feedback from this field, you’ll have a better idea of what participants want covered in the meeting.

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Listing topics will also help keep attendees’ questions relevant to the meeting you’ve planned.

If you want to make absolutely sure that they weigh in on the topics, you can make selecting a topic a required field. Just select the form element, click the gear icon, and turn on Required.

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Simplify the signup

What if you need to record attendance or get a sense of how many people can make it to your meeting? You’ve already asked for names and email addresses. All you really need is one more Single Choice field to make it an RSVP form as well.

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Automate the automation

Creating a form will help you automate communication with your meeting attendees, but Jotform also uses integrations to automate your processes even further.

For example, Jotform has an integration with Google Calendar that can automatically create a calendar event after an attendee submits a form response.

Gather notes and prep for the next meeting

The best time to start planning the next meeting is shortly after you’ve concluded one. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the meeting you just finished so you can make the next one even better.

To do that, you can send out a follow-up form to get people’s feedback while it’s still fresh in their minds. You may want to ask

  • How relevant was the subject matter to you?
  • Did you get satisfactory answers to your questions? 
  • How was the pacing: too fast, too slow, just right?

If you leverage technology, your meetings will be the envy of everyone who’s ever held a meeting. OK, that’s probably not true. But if you use technology, your meetings will be more efficient, more productive, and more useful to participants.

Lee Nathan is a personal development and productivity technology writer. He can be found at

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