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Meetings are a key aspect of any business, and we know they can be a daunting experience for some. From first impressions and internal check-ins to presentations and annual reviews, meetings are crucial for bringing organisations together to discuss business priorities and objectives, planning for the future and reporting against KPIs.
So, whether it’s your first meeting in-person or you’re two years in and want to brush up on your in-person skills, here are our top five tips for bossing your next meeting:
Having an agenda for the meeting ensures you know what the key priorities are for the meeting, giving you tools to prepare valuable updates and reports to discuss. This also allows you to assign responsibilities to your team, giving them ownership of different topics, and it helps to ensure that the same person isn’t doing all the talking.
If your guests are coming to your office, prepare the office – ensuring it’s clean and tidy, you have refreshments on hand, and have let reception know that you’re expecting visitors.
With many meetings happening remotely now, we’re getting used to a more relaxed culture, however, if you’re visiting a client in person it’s time to dust off the shirt and tie, and dress smartly. Exactly what to wear will vary depending on the occasion and client, so speak to your colleagues for advice if you haven’t visited them before. Online, we focus on a head and shoulders profile, so as long as you’re well-presented and comfortable, and there are no offensive or conflicting logos on show, you have more freedom.
Being early to a meeting will ensure you have time to run through your notes and take a breather. It also gives you the extra time if you run into traffic or disruptions on route – so take this into consideration when planning, especially if it’s the first appointment of the day. It is also simple etiquette to be on time and will immediately give a good impression to the other attendees.
This rule also applies for video calls, as the effects of being early, or late, will be the same whether it’s at home or in the office.
Take lots of notes:
Conversations move on quickly, so it’s important to actively make notes throughout the entire meeting, in as much detail as possible. Whether you’re leading the meeting or supporting, everyone should take notes and compare them afterwards, to ensure everyone has accurate information. Often, you’ll be asked to draft a contact report with key actions and agreements after the meeting, so you’ll need notes then too.
Top tip: Date all your notes, so you can easily find what you were talking about and refer back to them.
With video calls becoming much more commonplace in recent years, it’s worth noting the differences and similarities between video and in-person meetings.
With most video calls being conducted from home, interruptions are more likely, (we’ve all had to hop off to greet the postmen or have experienced dogs barking in the background), so think about where you want to host your meeting and the timings – try and avoid busy times, when you have others at home or when you might not be able to have a private call. Consider your surroundings too – what can be seen on your camera, is it light enough and is your Wi-Fi signal strong enough?
You’ll also find you’re working harder over a Zoom or Teams call and therefore, you might experience ‘Zoom fatigue’ – that’s because we’re ‘actively listening’ and online, this means we try harder to show that we’re paying attention, show we are listening and respond more obviously to the attendees. This can lead to forgetfulness, tiredness or difficulty concentrating, but can be combatted by building in small breaks throughout your day, reducing on-screen stimuli or by not booking too many video calls into one day.
For all meetings remember that you still need to be professional, presentable and prepared! Listen and respond to your guests, and show that you are present in the meeting. This will also become apparent in your follow up, which should be in a timely manner (the day after would be ideal), you are accurate in your note-taking, and clearly highlight actions and deadline for both yourself and your client.
Following these tips will ensure that your next meeting is a big success. You can find more advice and top tips on our ADPR blog.