Best practices for a successful meeting

Business meetings can be very stressful situations and ensuring the meeting remains on track and runs smoothly are essential. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the meeting going in the right direction so having a strong but fair person chairing the meeting can make the difference. Having the right person as chair will ensure that the agenda is followed and that each point on the agenda is discussed and concluded before moving on to the next one without diverging onto other things. This means that the meeting should be professional and focussed but can have some light heartedness.

It is important to know what you want to get from the meeting before you go in. You should have some goals and having a written agenda which has been distributed to all attendees beforehand will give everyone a chance to see what is to be discussed and agreed on prior to the meeting. Everyone will have their own expectations and some will disagree with some points on the agenda so it is important to be able to compromise or find a way to agree. Again, this is where a strong chair comes in, they can help to facilitate a compromise or find a way around the disputed point. Make sure that only those necessary to accomplish the objectives of the meeting are invited, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and so is the case with meetings. Too many voices all wishing to be heard can lead to disarray and nothing will be achieved.

Another factor in hosting a successful meeting is the venue. Being able to access a suitable conference room is essential. A round table can make people feel equal and that their opinions will be valued. Comfortable chairs that are the right height for the table and that offer good lumbar support are also important. If attendees are not comfortable to begin with, they will not give of their best and will be unable to focus properly on the key points as they will be distracted by their own discomfort. The room should have a professional but welcoming ambience so that people feel comfortable in the room. If you have to hire a conference room, spend some time just sitting quietly in it to get a feel for it. Is it the right size for the meeting? Does it have enough seating? Are the chairs suitable for a meeting of x number of hours? Is the room bright and airy or does it appear dark and dingy? Is there a good quality table that has enough room for all attendees? These are just a few questions you might consider before choosing a venue.

Upon the conclusion of the meeting, do make sure that minutes have been taken and written up so that they can be shared with everyone. A written summary containing all the decisions that have been made should be distributed to all who attended, you might like to offer them the chance to make corrections if necessary. Being able to avoid conflict and solve issues diplomatically is key to a successful meeting.

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