In virtually all large and midsize companies, every year high-level executives come together for leadership summits. When well executed, these meeting summits are certainly worth the time and expense.

They serve as a powerful catalyst to align leaders, introduce new strategies and fuel employee collaboration and goodwill. But many companies squander this opportunity because they can become overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) studied various leadership summits and management in organizations. HBR broke out key summit stages -before, during and after- across the planning process with tips that you and your planner can utilize. These event pointers can be effective to help coordinate ideas, build enthusiasm amongst teams and kick start summit energy. So with an engaged and knowledgeable planner, you can turn a potential boring leadership summit into a high point of the annual management calendar.

Stage #1: Before the Summit

Organize key performance roles – Booking a motivational speaker or an emcee (other than the CEO) should be selected to introduce the sessions and speakers, smooth transitions, clarify questions from the audience and present other social media input. Facilitators are also helpful to help guide any small-group discussions.

Define a set of objectives by starting with the right questions – Typically, executives will want to specify several outcomes, but the important point is to formulate them as outcomes, not as a grab bag of agenda items connected by a vague theme.

Design the summit around the objectives and coordinate content – Podium presentations, breakouts and interactive sessions should be not only relevant to the company’s objectives, but also coordinated so that the programming forms a coherent whole.

Engage participants in the days prior – Before arriving, attendees can be given a virtual orientation or hard materials focused on the objectives. Include only the minimum amount necessary to set up discussions planned for the event.

Stage #2: During the Summit

Pay attention to the pace and rhythm – Kick off the conference with brief keynotes, introduce the meeting objectives and frame what the summit is going to unfold. Devote time to understanding and communicating the presentations and exercises.

Allow for flexibility within sessions – HBR found an ideal podium session includes no more than four presenters who speak for 15 to 20 minutes each, using just five to seven slides.

Gathering Input – Old-school, low-tech tools are still effective in gathering input quickly. Participants can write questions or comments as they occur on 3×5 cards so ideas are still fresh in their minds.

Stage #3: After the Summit

Create succinct materials for attendees to take home – The real moment of truth for a summit occurs when attendees return to their divisions and people ask them, “So, what happened at the event?” Supply them with communication aids such as emailed talking points, presentations or video links to assist with recaps.

Continue the conversation – Conduct a survey to see if the event goals were fulfilled and ask participants about what worked, what could be improved and what should be eliminated for next year’s summit. Repeating the pre-meeting survey questions will give you valuable insights into the impact of the event. Enable attendees to continue the conversation among themselves through an intra-corporate social network.