The Secret to Making Your Next Big Meeting a Success
Sep 26, 2015 by Karen Daniels

Meetings. We all have them. No matter what business or industry we’re in, meetings seem to be a fact of the working life. And if you want those meetings to be productive, the key is to make sure that those attending are going to be engaged with the people, the process, and the material.

Microsoft conducted a survey of businesses several years ago and found that people spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings; 71 percent of American employees reported that these meetings “aren’t very productive.”1

Whether your meeting runs for several hours or several days, there are many ways to ensure that your meetings are productive and attendees stay engaged from start to finish. To lay a solid foundation, your meetings should include:

  • Good meeting basics
  • An engaging agenda
  • The right technology

 

Meeting Basics

To Begin:

  • Make sure the meeting is necessary. Whether you’re holding an association sales meeting, training seminar, sales meeting, convention, or other corporate event, meetings need to add value in order for attendees to feel attending them is time well spent.
  • Distribute key materials ahead of time. Make sure attendees receive agendas and other important supporting documentation ahead of time.
  • Start on time. This should go without saying yet delayed starts happen frequently. You don’t want to get things started late or you’ll already have people in a non-positive frame of mind. So plan enough time to handle all those last minute issues which will surely arise.

During:

  • Encourage individual thinking and seek opinions from everyone. Nothing gets people to tune out faster than a one-way conversation. Make sure you create an atmosphere that encourages even the shyer participants to speak up.
  • Stay on track. Keep meeting goals in mind and have a facilitator who is able to steer groups away from personal conflicts. Redirect back to goals and desired outcome as needed.
  • Put the right people in charge. Running a successful meeting is a skill set that is not possessed by everyone. You want to select people that you can count on to produce the desired results.
  • Have the right resources and technology on hand (see “The Right Technology” section below). The last thing you want is to lose valuable meeting time because everything comes to a halt due to improper or poorly functioning technology.

To Finish:

  • Summarize. As your meeting draws to an end, do a summary of what was accomplished. Even if your meeting dealt with less-than-pleasant topics, it’s important to find something positive so that everyone leaves with some enthusiasm.
  • End on time, or earlier. Just as it’s important to start on time, it’s equally important to finish when you’re scheduled to finish so that attendees can get on with their day. Ending early is often a pleasant surprise to attendees.

 

Create an Engaging Agenda for Your Meeting

A little planning will go a long way when it comes to creating an effective agenda. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Seek to add value at every turn. A good agenda begins with only having people attend who have interest in the topic and believe their time spent at the meeting was worth it. On the flip side, eliminate topics that are of no interest to the people attending.
  • People like to know what to expect . Everyone involved should have a clear idea of the purpose of the meeting and the purpose and goals should be built right into the agenda for everyone to see.
  • Give them heads up on outlet availability. Let them know ahead of time what kind of technology will be used or provided and the availability of PDUs for plugging in devices. The last thing you want is for attendees to arrive with technology that they won’t be able to use.
  • Build in plenty of discussion time. Talking and brainstorming creative ideas and solutions are great ways to get things moving and to get everyone excited.
  • Takeaways. Make sure the agenda allows for discussions to end with an action plan. With no plan of action all those new great ideas won’t go to the next stage.

 

The Right Meeting Technology

One of the biggest meeting killers is technology gone wrong. Even if everything else has been well thought out and planned, if you find yourself struggling with the technology or it stops working just when the discussions are in full flow, you’re going to have a hard time salvaging your meeting.

  • Get the right equipment! Meetings can call for specific types of equipment. Maybe you need iPads for everyone or even charging stations so everyone can keep their technology going. You may not have what you need in stock, or you simply may not want to deal with the headaches of needing to configure a variety of personal equipment when people bring in their own. That’s why we offer technology rentals for meetings.
  • WiFi. You must have guaranteed WiFi that suits your meeting and attendee needs. Whether your meeting is at the office of offsite, this is not the place to cut budget.
  • Bring in the experts. Make sure your tech equipment is ready to go. If you have not hired a company such as SmartSource to stay on top of your technology, then make sure everything is set up and double checked for issues.
  • Never assume. Ensure that everyone who is going to be using the technology knows how to use it. Don’t assume that everyone knows how to use an iPad, for example. If they don’t all know how to use whatever technology is needed, either provide training ahead of time or have technicians on hand to assist them and make sure adequate agenda time is provided.
  • Have the resources on hand to keep your technology going. You know from your own computers that technology doesn’t always function the way you planned. This means you need people at your meeting who can manage and troubleshoot any unforeseen issues

SmartSource provides technology rentals for meetings. We are equipped to handle everything from single room set up, to multi-locale, simultaneously occurring product launch events and sophisticated events that include staging, lighting and large sound systems for 1000s of employees.

Give us a call at 800-888-8686 and lay that groundwork to engaging and successful meeting.

Resources

  1. http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-steps-to-great-meetings.html

 

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