Business meetings can go either way. They can be an energising session that leaves the delegates buzzing and all your outcomes have been achieved. Or, they can be the best way to make time drag since double maths on a sunny day.
At The Cornwall, we’ve helped many businesses with their meetings. Based on our experience, here is our advice for running a successful meeting.
Have an objective
Why are you having a meeting? It sounds obvious, but so many people will hold a team meeting “because we haven’t had one for a while” or “because we haven’t all sat down together for ages”. If you’re arranging a meeting because you think the team needs to get together, don’t create a formal meeting for the sake of it. Arrange a team building day with us instead!
Think about the outcome you want from the meeting. Do you want to reach a decision? Come up with an idea? Communicate something specific? Plan a strategy? Keep asking, “What do we need to have achieved by five o’clock?”
Have an agenda
So, you definitely have a goal to reach. The agenda is the pathway to that goal. As well as ensuring you cover everything you need to, it keeps the meeting on track and ensures that people don’t all set off down different pathways.
Circulate the agenda in advance if appropriate, which helps your delegates arrive already focussed on the topic. If it’s a planning meeting or a meeting to generate ideas, people can start preparing their input in advance.
Invite the right people
If you need to make decisions, or set pathways, don’t invite the whole company – you’ll never get anywhere. Be inclusive yes, but ask yourself first which people you need on board to help you make those decisions.
We’ll be honest – our meeting rooms are modestly sized and we’d recommend twenty delegates as a maximum. That will help to keep your attendee list under control!
Get the venue right
It’s good to get away from your usual venue for a meeting. Your colleagues will often focus better away from their desks and all the daily distractions; and there’s a great clarity that can come from stepping away from the normal scenario. As well as helping them to concentrate, a change of scene also makes a team feel valued, especially if includes some food and perhaps some informal down-time.
If you choose to hold your meeting with us, you’ll also get the benefit of a dedicated member of staff to look after you. He or she will make sure that you have everything you need, from projectors to pens to plenty of coffee.
Keep to schedule
Start on time, and finish on time. Pick a Chair for the meeting who knows how to keep things tight, and who is not afraid to move the conversation on, Dimbleby style. This is about more than efficiency: it sends out a message that you respect your colleagues’ time, and won’t waste it by making them hang around or stay late.
This is where a hotel-based meeting can really be beneficial. The session will be punctuated by pre-arranged breaks which act as milestones as you move through the agenda. And, don’t forget to have something really interesting and energising on the agenda after lunch. We provide a really good business lunch, and the delegates may be feeling too replete and content to focus unless the topic is particularly attention-grabbing!
Have a smartphone amnesty
This is an increasing problem at meetings. We’re all very twitchy around our phones these days, constantly fiddling with them even if we’re not anticipating anything important coming through. You may not want to sound like a teacher and put all the mobiles in the desk drawer; however as a minimum you need all phones on silent.
If you are expecting an essential call, you can always divert your phone to our business co-ordinator’s office.
It’s not just been a jolly. Revisit the initial objective(s) at the end of the session, and arrange any follow-up meetings before you leave (we can even get it in the diary straight away for you). Make sure that the minutes are circulated promptly, with action points highlighted.
And immediately after the meeting…? Well, unless anyone has to rush off, treat the team to a drink in our bar, or even a couple of hours in The Clearing Spa. You’ve worked hard – now have a play.
To find out how we can help you plan a successful meeting, please contact us.