Hosting a business meeting, whether with coworkers or with top executives from multiple companies, there are a few things to keep in mind. Of course, each meeting will be different in regard to topic, attendees, location, and such, but if you stick to a specific way of running your meetings you'll find that it's much easier to prepare and execute meetings, and you'll develop your own style as you grow into your presenter role.
Here are six things to remember when hosting a business meeting:
- Ensure you are prepared. This is essential because you can't just show up and expect to have everything ready. Ensure you have enough copies of any handouts, that your presentation is complete and ready to go, and practice your presentation prior to the day-of.
- Setup the meeting space. If you're still futzing with the power, cords, TV, projector, sound system, or computer when your attendees arrive, you could end up looking unprofessional and unprepared. Make sure you have plenty of time to set everything up and test everything prior to the arrival of your attendees.
- Make sure your attendees have all necessary information. They will need to know the day, time, and place of your meeting - including the end-time of your meeting. Let your attendees know if you will be providing food, provide maps if necessary, and check with your attendees to see if there is anything special they will need (i.e. dietary restrictions, power sources, etc.). Sending the agenda out with the meeting invitation will help attendees know what to expect.
- Always have a backup plan. My general rule of thumb is that if something can go wrong, it will. Make sure you have back up plans for technology issues, forgetting or finding that your handouts are damaged (i.e. coffee stains, etc.), a presentation that is corrupt, etc.
- Conducting the meeting. To start the meeting you will need to take control of the room and conduct an introduction that should give a run-down of the agenda and the day, including when food and breaks will be provided. In addition, don't allow for off-topic discussions or for a certain topic to go over time by more than 2-3 minutes. Stick to your agenda. If it's apparent that the topic will require further discussion, schedule an additional meeting with the necessary parties for that specific topic.
- End on-time. Ending a meeting on time is crucial for several reasons.
- First, if you are hosting the meeting in an offsite location that you are paying for you may be charged for going over your allotted time.
- Second, if the space is reserved for another party or meeting after yours, you will be holding up the space for them.
- Third, your attendees may have scheduled meetings after yours, so you would be holding them up from getting to their next meeting. If you do this, they may not be very willing to attend one of your meetings in the future.
- Fourth, sticking to the agenda (and end-time) will help you look more professional and much better in the eyes of your attendees.