Hosting a Successful Meeting

Everyone has been to an unsuccessful meeting.  The meeting that starts at 8am, has no coffee, and goes on longer than it was scheduled is notorious.  Loathing is designated for the meeting that could have been an email.  The Friday afternoon meeting before a holiday weekend or the constantly rescheduled meeting that never seems to catch everyone at an available time?  Those are sure to get your goat too.  Meetings are easy to complain about but to truly be a Master of the Meeting, here are several elements that can serve you well. 


Classic, essential, should this go without saying?  As a presenter, you are the ultimate in responsibility when leading the room and always should arrive in advance of even your earliest attendees.  I personally prefer 20-30 minutes prior to a full day or multi-day presentation, and 10-15 prior to a one-three hour presentation.  Perhaps you are leading a 2-day training which features content and discussion from a variety of presenters; as the lead, it is your job to not only make sure that your co-presenters show up on time, but also be prepared to punt if something unexpectedly comes up.  So what does this mean to your schedule?  Always have an activity or a section that can be independent of your other content prepared if you are relying on co-presenters.  It will bring you peace of mind and keep your attendees engaged.  On the flip side, ensure you stick to your end time limit too.  Nobody wants to get out at 6pm when they expect to be finished by 4:30pm.  


Food and beverage options need to be outlined in accordance with the length of the presentation or meeting, always with a budget in mind.  If you know that the topic you are presenting has no budget for meals, it is perfectly within reason to advise your invitees of this reality.  The better prepared they are for their day, the better your session will go.  All that said, here are a few strong recommendations, if your budget allows:

  • If your meeting starts at 8am or earlier, host coffee.  This is a kindness to all those reliant on caffeine and to you as the presenter.  
  • If you have an all-day training, really look deep in your budget for lunch.  Less collateral may be preferable to less food.
  • If scheduling during that late afternoon sluggish period (3-4pm, I’m looking at you!), consider a sweet pick-me-up.  It doesn’t need to be cookies, fruit works great too.

Lead on, Leader

To help attendees stay on track, an agenda is helpful.  Stay on topic while allowing for natural discussion, making sure to capture any novel concepts.  If you have strong personalities in your group, be sure to wrangle them early on lest you get sidelined repeatedly by showboating.  If a hot topic comes up, consider setting it aside by putting it in the “Parking Lot” to be discussed later.  Bringing things back to an agenda that has been shared with the group is an easy fix, without stepping on the ego of that strong personality.  A few other tips that can help you be a strong leader in every session:

  • Have a time-keeper.  This is more valuable in a longer session, but having someone keep track of time is a great benefit.  At bare minimum, have a clock easily visible in your meeting space. 
  • Designate someone as a records-keeper.  This leaves you to continue facilitating the meeting without sacrificing good information and progress.
  • For longer meetings, consider having some house rules.  Things like turning off phones, waiting for breaks to leave the room, the presenter’s right to set something aside for further discussion at a later time, and not interrupting others can help maintain the peace.  

All these little tips and tricks aside, the single best piece of advice I can give is to be authentic.  Present information that you are confident in, that you believe in from your core, and you will always have fun.  Believe in yourself; a sense of enthusiasm is contagious!  

For more information on how It’s About the Details can assist your small business, team, or company with any Human Resources needs, Training, or Business Mentoring, reach out to us at [email protected] and we will contact you directly to help facilitate enhancements for your business to thrive. 

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