Planning an Off-Site Business Meeting

Conducting a business meeting is one of the most important events in the business calendar. As a business owner you might need to conduct some meetings with the customer at a peaceful and a calm location, so that the meetings will not have any distractions from your day-to-day business. When conducting such client meetings it is very important for the business to consider certain factors. These factors include the availability of a meeting place with good infrastructure, proper communication to all the attendees well in advance and provision of good quality food to the people attending the meeting.

When one looks for an ideal destination to conduct the meeting, the person should also look for the availability of a meeting place in the destination with the entire required infrastructure such as chairs and tables, proper ventilation, projectors in working condition and provision for working with laptops.

These are only some of the major facilities that are required for meetings. There are other factors that might be minor, but also extremely important to smoothly conduct the meeting. Thus before booking the hall, one should have a checklist of items that needs to be available in the meeting hall. While talking to the meeting hall representative, the business owner can ask for the availability of all the items in the check list.

The business owner should ensure that the meeting schedule is circulated to the target audience some weeks in advance. Complete details including the meeting hall location in the town, landmarks to easily identify the meeting hall, the start time of the meeting and the lunch break and the end time. The meeting attendees also should be informed whether lunch will be served there. The meeting agenda should clearly mention the topics to be discussed and who is going to deliver the speech for that topic.

On the day of the meeting, the person responsible for making the arrangements should reach the meeting place well in advance. The person should be there at least an hour before the meeting starts. By reaching early, the concerned person can cross check whether all the arrangements are in place for the meeting to start on time. There should not be any last minute surprises.

While conducting the meeting, it is important for the participants to strictly adhere to the schedule mentioned. Speakers should not deviate too much from the topic of discussion and should talk only about the topic planned.

The Purpose of Business Meetings

The current situation and investigation of the GSA’s Las Vegas event has many people up in arms about the investment that companies, associations, and governmental agencies make on hosting business meetings. People who question the purpose and power of business meetings are rattling the cage and making noise just as they did after “Muffin-Gate” in 2011 (the over hyped and twisted story that a DOJ paid $16 per muffin at a meeting coffee break). But there is more to meetings than the costs to produce a meaningful conference.

While it can sound expensive, the realities of hosting events do cost money. Hotels, meals, transportation, professional speakers, entertainment, and other necessary items have associated bills. But when a meeting becomes a “happening” there is value created. Looking at pieces of the puzzle separately can cause some to misinterpret the real power that happens when people gather together. Throughout history man has collected in groups to share the best ideas, learn, grow, entertain, have fun, and get inspired for the future.

Of course there are those who abuse the system, make poor spending decisions, and waste money. I am not condoning bad behavior. Meetings are not something you just “do”… as you need trained professionals to help you organize or you will fall prey to all sorts of mistakes. Too many jump in thinking “how hard can it be?” and wing-it in their planning. A conference has so many parts that you should never expect the right results without the proper planning and experience.

Some people think that the meetings industry is dead. I spoke to one person recently who said she never goes to business meetings, and thus was convinced that conferences were dying. NOT TRUE. Many business meetings are growing and new conferences spring up daily around the world. The meetings industry is a multi-billion dollar business that employs over 1.7 million people in the United States.

The problem with all the discussion about meetings is there is not a clear understanding of the purpose of business gatherings. If you talk to different people you will get different answers. Some think meetings exits to educate. Others to entertain. Networking opportunities are regularly cited as a reason to attend. There are those that believe meetings a perk, while just as many view them as an obligation. Associations can acquire much of their income from conferences and at the same time other companies and agencies have them as expenses.

Every meeting that is planned can have different purposes (even meetings that are put on by the same organization).

Since there is not a single purpose for business meetings there will always be controversy as people tend to only look at things the way they want to see them. Those who want to see meetings as expensive can make that argument, but if you have ever been to a conference where you made a connection that changed the direction of your career, or learned something that inspired you to achieve more… then you know why there will always be business meetings.

All opportunities come from people, and bringing groups together is a way to create more opportunities.

I believe meetings exist for many of reasons, but too often even the organizers cannot tell you the clear purpose. Working to appeal to a variety of people can leave an event too vanilla to become spectacular to anyone. If you cannot clearly articulate the reason to host the meeting, why can you expect attendees to understand the purpose?

Knowing the answer to “why” will make the event better for everyone!

What was the last meeting you attended and why was it great? (or why was it blah?).

Getting the Most Out of a Business Meeting

Most of us spend a large part of our work day going from business meeting to another without bothering to assess if we are actually gaining anything out of them. Is there a way to make business meetings more productive?

In order to make the most out of a business meeting you need to improve the productivity of each such meeting. Every meeting should extract the maximum possible for the duration that it lasts. Do not try to make a meeting cover everything under the sun. Instead, try to make sure that the items on the agenda for the particular meeting are covered effectively. At the end of the meeting, the participants should leave knowing the tasks that they need to accomplish.

Here are a few more tips to get the most of out your business meetings.

Business meetings should never be held on an ad hoc basis. You should prepare for a meeting in advance. Start by listing the objectives of the meeting. These objectives need to be clear, specific and measurable. These will help you check if you have covered the meeting goals. You will also waste less time trying to get to the point. List out the expectations or results that you expect from the meeting. During the course of the meeting, encourage the other participants to contribute with their ideas and opinions so that you have their buy-in. The more involved people are, the quicker you will be able to see results. Focus on the bigger issues at hand and do not let tertiary issues take over the meeting. Allow the tone of the meeting to be casual but do not let that make the participants treat the meeting as being frivolous. Leave the jokes for later.

Do not invite people to business meetings unless their presence is required. Just invite those who can actually contribute to the agenda of the meeting. This avoids wasting time for those people who are not really required. Business meetings should be held in a pleasant environment that makes the participants feel relaxed and comfortable. If required, you could rent out an office or conference venue for the meeting so that people have the opportunity to unwind.

Although you have prepared the points that need to be made do not be in a hurry to get to them immediately. Set a steady pace for the meeting and start by making everyone feel comfortable. The tempo should neither be too slow nor too fast.

Small-Medium Business – 7 Tips For More Effective, Purposeful and Shorter Business Meetings

The Constant Complaints
People complain constantly that lots of the meetings they attend are inadequate in some way. No conclusions are reached. No decisions are made. Disagreements aren’t resolved. Other people waffle on. Note that it’s always “others” who waffle. The meetings drag on. They don’t get a good hearing and so on and so on.

These ideas may help alleviate the worst meeting excesses

1. Be Punctual.
Start on time regardless of how many of the expected people are present. If that means latecomers miss out on something they wanted to say, so be it. Over time they’ll learn to be punctual.

2. Finish On Time.
Set a finish time and stick to it. If you have unfinished business when the allotted time expires, schedule another meeting. It’s quite unreasonable to expect busy people to sit in seemingly endless meetings when they’ve already interrupted normal work to attend.

3. Restrict Participation.
Invite contributors only. No one should be asked to attend a meeting “for experience” or “as a presence”. If people have nothing to contribute or aren’t likely to be affected by what’s discussed at the meeting, there’s usually no need for them to be at the meeting.

4. Clear Objectives.
Specify the purpose of the meeting and stick to it. Stop participants from introducing other issues unless they are likely to have a major impact on the meeting purpose. Have a topic and a goal and stick with them.

5. Full Participation.
Encourage full participation at all times. Try to ensure that everyone feels that they’ve had the opportunity to “have their say”. Some participants may want to out talk or talk down others. Stop this sort of thing the moment it starts.

6. Encourage Small Meetings.
Where only a few participants are qualified to speak on a particular aspect or issue, encourage them to meet separately and report back to the whole group. This also ensures that your meeting isn’t bogged down in discussing technical matters where few participants have the expertise to participate fully.

7. Record Decisions.
Make notes of any conclusions or decisions reached. Record to whom responsibilities are allotted with deadlines. Circulate this information to attendees after the meeting. If another meeting is necessary, schedule it before people leave. If you need another meeting, it’s best to arrange it while everyone’s together.

Conclusion.
Meetings can be boring, tedious and even unpleasant. They can also be effective, purposeful and enjoyable. Every business meeting should enhance and improve business progress and success. If that’s not the case in your business, try these tips.