Business meetings are a sure way to impress your colleagues, clients, or potential new business. A professionally run meeting will certainly leave a great impression on your meeting attendees. A badly run meeting will resonate in their heads for years down the road, and will reflect in their judgment of your work performance. So avoid meeting blunders – follow these tips and you will be on your way to impressing your guests and taking your business to that next level.
Get on the calendar! In today’s hectic world, most people plan their schedule months in advance. Make sure you get on guests’ calendars by sending a simple Save the Date two months prior to your meeting date, and then follow up with a formal invitation with all event details, including a map and directions to the venue and parking instructions, a month prior. A reminder email should be sent a week before the meeting, and finally a personalized, hand-written thank you note should be sent immediately following the meeting.
Location, location, location. If your meeting is taking place outside of your office building at a third party location, choose an area that is easily accessible via highways and multiple roads. All meeting attendees should have a straightforward path to get to the meeting. Choosing a venue that is off-the-beaten-path is an easy reason for attendees to decline your meeting invitation.
Guests should be comfortable. Splurge for executive-style seats. All hotel conference rooms, whether it be a Ramada Inn or a Hyatt, offer the option of switching out the standard brass chairs covered with red velvet, with plush black leather office chairs. If your meeting isn’t taking place in a hotel, the chairs can be rented from a furniture rental company such as Cort Furnishings (www.cort.com). These leather office chairs immediately transform the feel of the room from a standard ballroom to a professional executive board room.
Minimize noise. For a meeting taking place over breakfast or lunch, serve food that doesn’t require silverware, such as breakfast pastries or sandwiches. Nothing is more distracting to you, the presenter, and your guests than the clanking of silverware while trying to make, or listen to, a presentation.
Have their undivided attention. Print copies of the presentation for all meeting attendees, and hand them out prior to the start of the presentation. Guests should be made aware that they are receiving all presentation material to take home with them, ensuring that you have their undivided attention during the presentation, instead of them frantically trying to jot down all points from the presentation.
Be visually attractive. When using PowerPoint presentations, summarize your ideas with clear & concise bullet points, graphs and pictures. The time to elaborate is during your speech, NOT on the PowerPoint. No one wants to read all that verbiage during a presentation. Instead they want to hear it. So be prepared to back up your points with stories, facts and figures that you reiterate to the crowd. Also, words on the PowerPoint should be no smaller than a 24 size font, to ensure that everyone, no matter where they are located in the room, are able to read the screen.
Have Fun. Stuffy meetings are not pleasing for anyone. Even in the most formal of presentations, crack a joke, be comfortable when presenting, and relate to the crowd. People respond better to presenters that are not talking above their level. Overall, enjoy your time up there. It’s the one time you can get all of your ideas out to a group of people who aren’t distracted by anything else, so use the time wisely.
Here’s to your next successful meeting!
All our best,
Gail & Stephanie