5 Fundamentals Of Successful Business Meetings
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Whether it involves cutting costs or improving sales performance, meetings are usually held to accommodate an important objective. But they don’t always go as planned. Without proper planning, those important meetings can be doomed to lackluster settings and poor participation. In these environments, attendees often find themselves loathing every moment, anxious to escape and carry on with the rest of the day.
Anyone tasked with putting together the monthly departmental assembly or occasional discussions with outside parties has their work cut out for them. On the bright side, it is possible to organize business meetings that provoke attention and participation. Here are a few tips that will come in handy during the brainstorming stage.
1. Plan the Event
Planning is arguably the most important component in executing a business meeting. This plan should cover aspects such as:
Main theme. Choosing a main idea will give your meeting focus and make it easier for participants to zero in on what’s important.
Participants. Speaking of participants, now is the time to determine just who will be attending and playing a role. Make a list and check it twice to ensure that no one is left out.
Location. The location aspect tends to be most important when meetings are held offsite. If this is the case, your plan should involve evaluating costs and the size of the venue to ensure that there is enough space to accommodate everyone.
Format. Will your meeting be one long gathering, or divided into individual sessions? Having multiple sessions tends to help with digesting information, so if this is what the moment calls for, determine how many will be needed and who will moderate what.
2. Create an Agenda
A meeting should have an agenda behind it. This agenda will serve the following purposes:
Clarifying objectives so the purpose of the meeting is understood
Making sure participants can help in planning and making a contribution
Providing focus and direction during the meeting
Different businesses have different preferences when it comes to agenda designs and styles. Just try to make sure it consists of essentials such as the title and a brief review of the main theme, an acknowledgment of key participants, and a timeline of the discussion items. A good plan will help bring your meeting together. A good agenda will get you through it with as few hitches as possible once its underway.
3. Identify Roles and Responsibilities
With your main focus established, list of attendees composed, and agenda mapped out, it’s time to designate roles to key parties. This step is crucial whether you’re entertaining a room of dozens or just a handful. Who’s going to kick things off with the opening address? Who’s going to set up the projector and handle all the technical elements? What about backups who can stand in if certain participants can’t make it? From speakers to IT, everyone must know their role in the meeting and what it entails.
4. Prioritize Meeting Content
In brainstorming ideas to get more out of your meetings, put some emphasis on quality. You have your main idea, but what content can you come up with to support it? The right content is going to depend on the topic at hand, and may deal with anything from a benefit summary to the pros and cons around that core theme. With that said, some of the most effective content you can incorporate into the event is that of the visual persuasion.
Whether it’s PowerPoint presentations or streaming video, visual content works wonders in the meeting setting by helping engage participants. The visual cues bring a lot the table, but you can get even better results with them by keeping points like this in mind:
Use quality images. The clip art in your writing program is conveniently accessible, but is it really appealing enough to support the meeting agenda? Usually not, so we recommend tracking down some good images to use instead. There are plenty of free sources online that exist for this very purpose.
Balance text. Want to make sure attendees stay engaged during the meeting? Don’t force them to do too much reading. Balance text with a compelling voice that keeps their ears open by presenting valuable information.
Keep it simple. It’s possible to get pretty creative with things such as special effects, transitions, and animations, but you want to keep this stuff to a minimum. Sure. It usually looks good, but it can also serve as a distraction and take away from your presentation.
5. Consider What’s Next
There is still work to be done once the meeting concludes. The follow-up stage is when you have an opportunity to sit back and measure your performance as well as set a tone that will enable you to have successful gatherings in the future. Here are some closing tips to help ensure all ends well:
Give thanks. Show appreciation to your speakers and everyone who helped make the meeting a success by sending personal thank you cards.
Get feedback. Any feedback you’re able to get from participants can be used to shape future meetings. Setup a quick online survey asking what they thought about specific aspects of the event and their opinion of the meeting overall.
Prepare for next time. Keep track of your attendees, participants, and the presentation material from the meeting. Along with the feedback, these items will be essential in bringing the next event together.
Planning and preparation are the keys to successful business meetings. Cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and they can flow smoothly every time out.
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