5 Steps to Successful Business Meetings

Mastering the Art of Meetings

There’s no questioning the importance of email sales campaigns, and the maintaining of a professional web presence. Information brokerage Statistica reportsthat “In 2012, U.S. e-commerce sales amounted to 289 billion U.S. dollars;” even the tiniest percentile fraction of that total can make or break a business.

But the value of meeting people face-to-face, delivering important information in a memorable way, simply cannot be underestimated. Meetings remain an invaluable networking tool, and a second-to-none resource for establishing ongoing relationships. Savvy business operators understand this, so much so that organizing events is an industry itself. As an example, the Las Vegas conference factorygenerates approaching seven billion dollars in revenue annually, supporting some 57,000 jobs in that city alone.

There are numerous reasons for that level of enthusiasm, including information retention and, often, the inherent “fun factor” involved in simply attending a happening that’s fairly rare in your business life. Explore these five factors that are proven steps to successful business meetings:

A Meeting is an Appointment

See it that way. You have an appointment with everyone in the room, and they with you. All should be punctual, the event should end on schedule, and the itinerary should be built around those responsibilities. Encroachment into time that’s been budgeted elsewhere is an insult; it assumes your affairs are more important than those of your attendees.

Have a Stated Goal

Know why your meeting is being convened, determine a roadmap that guides the event from meet-and-greet to grazing for follow-up information in the foyer afterward, and stick to it. Off-topic traffic allows meandering discourses on barely-related minutiae to subvert your message. Attendees will be at best bored, and at worst confused. If their concentration leaves the arena, so does your opportunity. As an aside, it’s worth noting that there are inherent costs to staging even in-house meetings; your staff aren’t being productive while they’re attending. If you don’t have a definite goal in mind for the event, it’s quite likely it needn’t take place.

Amplify the Upside

It’s always the case that installing a fear factor can positively impact performance (and thus sales and profitability). Perhaps unhappily, it’s a proven tactic. Showing colleagues and clients that a failure to subscribe to your service, or to purchase your goods, will deprive them of an advantage does generate activity. But actively criticizing models or competitor products destroys group moral. Gripes and grievances, especially, are inappropriate. Focus on positives; avoid the potential of creating rivalries. If you have to address some negative aspect of your employees’, colleagues’ or clients’ performance, address it in private.

Camaraderie Doesn’t Equal Community

Remember that business meetings are about just that: business. It is vital that you assert the information flow of both in-house meetings and external events intended to enhance your profile, such as sales conferences. If co-workers with personal relationships are allowed to insert off-topic observations or itineraries into the former, and if attendees are able to suborn your message in order to advance their own programs in the latter, then the integrity of your agenda will be undermined. Peer pressure and bias are always counterproductive. The cohesive feel that’s a necessary factor in your appearing to be an authority figure is threatened, and you’re trying to sell yourself as the ultimate authority on the subject in question.

Don’t be a Dictator

It’s your meeting, and you have to retain control over both content and progression. Remember, however, that your entire audience has been invited because they enjoy some measure of success in their own enterprises. To a greater or lesser extent, they’re doing well for themselves (let’s be brutally honest, you otherwise wouldn’t have invited them). They have valuable input, from which other attendees — and, very probably, yourself — can benefit. Give your guests every opportunity to share experiences and feedback. Invite them to participate in Q&A sessions, or review topics as open-format discussions before moving on to the next set of subjects.

Meeting Transportation

Setting up chauffeured transportation for yourself or your clients is a great way to ensure everyone’s safety and punctuality. Request a free quote on corporate car service from CLI Worldwide Transportation by filling out the form below.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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