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Before you can handle successful business meetings, you first need to define a successful meeting. In this article, a business meeting is successful if the meeting objective is met in the planned period. There are two main phases to accomplishing the objectives of a meeting:
- Planning a Meeting
- Conducting a Meeting
Image Credit: SXC
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Planning the Meeting
- What is the objective of the meeting?
- What is the agenda and how long will it take?
- Who should be invited so that you can address the objective?
- Where should the meeting be held and what facilities are required?
- How will you present in the meeting, do you need a formal PowerPoint presentation?
- Do I need handouts?
For more golden rules for handling business meetings, read the Need Help Planning Your Next Meeting? Check Out These Tips! article.
Tip: Do not send the meeting request until you have completed the planning phase.
Image Credit: SXC
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Conducting the Meeting
When you conduct the meeting, you single most important goal is to ensure the business meeting objectives are met. Therefore, you need to use a focused approached and facilitate the meeting strictly as per the meeting agenda. Typically, a meeting agenda would also contain the period allotted for each agenda item. This helps in keeping track of time. Another good technique to keep track of time is to assign a meeting timekeeper.
When you start the meeting, you may need an introduction phase or an ice breaker. Give an opportunity to the participants to introduce themselves, if required. Set the meeting ground rules. These rules typically include:
- Ask participants to switch off their mobile phones
- Participation by the audience
- Let the person finish and then talk
- No side conversations
As the meeting proceeds, beware of some participants who may take the meeting astray. The ground rules you specify must foster conversation and help in creating a successful business meeting. This is one of those golden rules for handling business meetings that you must never forget.
After you’ve set the ground rules, the act of facilitation begins. In this phase, you are required to channel conversation. When multiple opinions are thrown in a business meeting, it can be mighty challenging. Facilitation is a skill that you‘ll learn with experience.
Apart from the challenge of channeling multiple opinions, you may also have some participants that are not open to providing any opinion. These are the silent backbenchers. For such participants, you need to pose questions directly and put them in the limelight. Remember you invited them to the meeting on the assumption that they could bring value. Since in meetings, participants may have countering opinoins, conflicts may arise. If you regularly encounter these types of situations, it can be helpful to brush up on various conflict management techniques.
Image Credit: SXC
For cross-geographical meetings, use technology such as WebEx, and ensure people use the features provided in the technology. For example, WebEx has the Raise Hand feature. Participants can use this feature to let the facilitator know that they need to ask a question.
Lastly, conducting a meeting requires focus from the host/facilitator. Therefore, it is best to leave the note taking to someone else in the meeting. Using a meeting template is critical to ensuring all decision and next steps are captured.
Tip: Before you close the meeting, make sure you summarize the key points and the next steps. In addition, recognize the participants for their contributions.
If you are headed for a difficult meeting, check out How to Manage Difficult Meetings for a few additional tips.
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- Personal experience