If you are in charge of planning a corporate meeting, you know that there is a lot that goes into making it successful. From the agenda to the venue, from the food to the seating chart, there are many different factors to consider. It’s no secret that taking the proper steps while planning is extremely important to ensure that you, as the facilitator, are able to get everything right.
Sometimes getting some help with planning and executing a corporate event can make a world of a difference. Even if you have left facilitation and planning in the hands of someone else, our goal is to help you to understand the foundation you’ll need to ensure that your event is truly a success.
Here at Team Building Unlimited, we have been in the business of planning and executing amazing corporate events and meetings for many years. We know exactly what works well for most businesses, as well as everything that does not work so well. We have seen firsthand just how facilitators can get in their own way when planning events. And our goal is to help you avoid that when facilitating your own events!
In this article, we will outline some tips for meeting facilitation that will help make your event run smoothly and ensure that your team has a productive meeting.
Planning Your Meeting
The first step in being successful is always to PLAN! It is super important that you take the extra time to really break down everything you will need for your meeting. This will save you a lot of time and headache later on down the road. So how exactly should you go about this first step?
Determine the Objectives & the Audience for the Meeting or Event
When planning a meeting, it is important to first consider the purpose of the meeting as well as who will be attending. Determining exactly who your audience is will help to guide the rest of the planning process.
Determine the objectives of the meeting before you try to do anything else. This will come more naturally for some events than others. What exactly do you hope to achieve? Once you have a good understanding of what you want to accomplish, it will be much easier to create an agenda and talking points that will help you meet those goals.
Some examples of different audience types and meeting purposes may include:
- Meeting with the accounting team, to discuss your organization’s newest client they will be taking on.
- Meeting with two team members who report directly to you, to discuss your team’s next big project.
- Meeting with the entire organization, for a fun team building and corporate bonding event.
- Meeting with both the marketing and the merchandising team, to discuss how both teams will work together on an upcoming project.
- Meeting with the entire senior leadership team, to take a deep dive into an issue the organization has been facing since the start of Q1.
As you can see in the examples above, the overall feel of an event depends equally on who the meeting is for and what the purpose is. A meeting to discuss an organization’s current challenges will have a very different objective than a fun team-building event. Your audience and the purpose of the event should go hand in hand.
Develop an Agenda with Time Blocks
Once you have determined the meeting objectives and who your audience will be, it is time to start creating your agenda. The agenda should be clear and concise, with topics that are relevant to the meeting’s purpose.
It’s important not to stray too far from the meeting objectives when planning an agenda because this might cause confusion or frustration among attendees who are trying to stay focused. The meeting agenda is great in this way, as it will help you remember what needs to be discussed during each time block and ensure that no topics get left out.
Your agenda’s main points should be tailored specifically for your meeting and its objectives. For example, if your meeting is about financial planning then you’ll want to include things like budgeting and investment strategies in the agenda.
If it’s a meeting that focuses on project management then make sure there’s plenty of time allotted for discussion around projects as well as how they’re progressing or not progressing.
It will be very helpful for attendees if you break up the meeting into different sections. Each section should have its own objective or purpose.
An example of this might be an event that begins with setting goals for the year, followed by an overview of the current projects, and then ends with a discussion on the next steps.
It is also important to consider how much time each topic will take so that you can plan accordingly. By having time blocks, you can help to ensure that the meeting flows smoothly and that all of the objectives are covered. It also helps to keep everyone on track by giving them an idea of how much time they have for each topic.
Find the Perfect Venue
Another key part of meeting planning is choosing a venue that is appropriate for your needs. Think about the logistics. What is the ideal venue for your event? Is there enough space for everyone who will be attending? Is the room temperature comfortable? Will there be food served? These are all questions you need to answer when planning a meeting.
The venue needs to not only be large enough to accommodate all of your attendees, but it should also have all the necessary equipment and resources to support your event. It is also important to consider the location of the venue and how it will impact travel times for attendees.
Trying to accommodate a team that is a bit more spread out? With virtual meetings on the rise more than ever before, perhaps the perfect venue for your event is online! This ensures that all team members, near or far, will be able to attend.
Food and Drink
When planning food and drink for an event, it is important to once again consider the audience and the purpose of the meeting. If you are hosting a meeting with clients or potential customers, you will want to serve food that is both tasty and professional. If the meeting is for internal team members, you can be a bit more casual with the food choices. In either case, it is important to make sure that there is enough food and drink for everyone!
Think about who’s attending and what tasks they may have to complete when planning the seating chart for your event. You may want to seat participants with their teams, with colleagues they are friendly with, or with their customers. In the case that you want to allow your team to choose their own seats, creating a seating chart is not necessary.
Make Sure Everyone Knows What’s Expected of Them
In order to make the meeting run as smoothly as possible, it is important that everyone knows what is expected of them. This includes not only attendees but also anyone who may be participating remotely.
Before the meeting begins, send out an agenda along with any supporting documents so that everyone has a good understanding of what will be discussed during the event, as well as what they will need to bring to the table to participate effectively.
Ensure Everyone Knows How to Use the Meeting Technology
With remote work on the rise, more meetings are being held virtually than ever before. While technology can make it easier for people to participate in meetings, it can also be a source of frustration if they don’t know how or what tools should be used during the meeting.
When planning your meeting, make sure that all attendees are aware of what technology they need to access the meeting and how they should use it once they’re there (e.g., mute their microphone when not speaking).
Facilitating a Successful Meeting: Start to Finish
Once you have planned the meeting, it is time to start thinking about how you will facilitate it. In this section, we’ll cover some tips to help make your meeting run seamlessly and ensure everyone stays on track with meeting objectives.
1. Start the meeting by introducing yourself and explaining your role in the meeting.
A quick introduction is always helpful, even if the group is already familiar with you. One great way to get everyone involved right from the jump is by doing a fun icebreaker activity that will get everyone on the same page!
2. Encourage others to ask questions or make comments as appropriate. Let them know how and when they should interject.
It is important that everyone knows how and when they should participate in the meeting. This includes both remote and in-person attendees who may need some guidance on meeting etiquette.
Either during or before the meeting, make sure everyone knows how they can ask questions or make comments in a way that doesn’t interrupt others. This may differ depending on if you are hosting an in-person or virtual meeting. A classic way for participants to indicate that they would like to speak is by raising their hands. Utilizing hand-raising ensures that everyone who wants to speak gets a chance to, and it decreases the chance for people to speak over one another.
Of course, with remote work on the rise, more meetings and events are being held virtually than ever before. While technology can in some ways make it easier for people to participate, virtual meetings or gatherings can become quite chaotic if the right steps are not taken to ensure everyone is able to say their piece in an effective manner. Some online meeting software has a virtual “hand-raising” option that participants can use. Or, if their webcams are on, you can provide the team with a signal to use when they would like to give their input. Implementing simple guidelines like these will help to keep things flowing smoothly because it gives attendees time to think about what they want to say before speaking up and also helps prevent people from talking over one another.
3. Make sure that everyone has a copy of the agenda and that they understand it. Use your agenda as your guide throughout the meeting.
When in doubt, refer back to your agenda! You took the time to create it in advance for a reason, let it be your guide.
The meeting agenda is a great tool to keep everyone on track during the meeting. It can be super helpful if you print out copies for each attendee so that they can follow along (especially for remote participants).
4. Keep track of the time so that you start and end on time. Ensure throughout that everyone stays on schedule.
It’s always frustrating when a meeting or event starts late or ends early. This can be especially problematic if you have remote participants joining who need to plan their day around the meeting time.
To help avoid this, always aim to start and end the meeting on time.
Need to run a bit over time? No big deal! If something comes up that causes you to run over your meeting time, it’s okay to ask people to stay a few minutes longer so that all topics can be covered.
5. Control the conversation. If someone is talking too much or monopolizing the conversation, politely intervene and ask them to let others have a turn.
It can feel a bit awkward for the entire group when one person begins to take control of the conversation or go off on unnecessary tangents. If this happens, gently let them know that you appreciate their input, but that you will be continuing the conversation in a new direction in order to stay on track with the meeting agenda.
6. Be sure to take notes during the meeting and recap the discussion afterward.
If you are not able to take notes during the meeting or event, try delegating this job to another member of the group. It’s really hard to host a meeting and also remember everything that is said in the meantime. It will be super helpful down the road when you can refer back to all of the great ideas that came up during the event.
7. End the meeting on time and make sure that everyone has had a chance to ask questions or express their thoughts.
When the meeting starts to come to a close, be sure to ask for any additional input from the participants. The more input from participating individuals, the better! So you want to make sure you are encouraging participants to vocalize all of their thoughts.
Sometimes attendees will hold onto questions or comments they have until the end of the meeting, so extending that offer before closing can really make a big difference in participation and the different ideas that arise.
This is also your chance to ensure that everyone ends on the same page. You can quickly gauge the effectiveness of your meeting by asking questions and listing out action items that you would like your team to take on following the meeting.
8. End the meeting by summarizing what was discussed and set a date for the next meeting.
Now that the meeting is over, it’s time to think about what needs to be done next. The meeting should come to a close with a few follow-up items.
Start by sending out meeting minutes, following up on action items, and even planning the next meeting.
If you’re responsible for sending out meeting minutes, make sure they are clear and concise so that people don’t have to sift through a lengthy document in order to find what’s important. You may also want to include an action item list for each meeting attendee as well as any other meeting-related tasks.
What Makes a Team Building Unlimited Event so Successful?
When it comes to planning meetings and events, we here at Team Building Unlimited consider ourselves the pros.
Our experience in the corporate event industry has exposed us to some of the very best and some of the very worst examples of meeting facilitation out there.
Sit Back and Relax! We’ve Got Your Event Covered
When you hire us to handle your event you can rest assured that you’ll have the best experience of your corporate life. And you won’t even have to lift a finger!
We will provide you with all you need to host a successful meeting or event. Arguably the most important aspect of all, we will also provide you with extremely charismatic hosts who will keep the attention of your participants throughout the event.
Our Team Building Unlimited events have proven to work effectively and therefore lead the way in the corporate team building industry. We are experts at making events feel fun, while also utilizing challenges that inspire change, productivity, participation, and responsibility within the office.
Here are some of our most secret tips to success when it comes to event planning:
– Plan ahead. There’s no such thing as too much planning when it comes to meeting facilitation! The more time you have before an event, the better prepared everyone will be for what lies ahead. This includes making sure that attendees know what technology they’ll need to access and use during the meeting or if there are any special requirements they need to be aware of.
– Set the tone early on. The first few minutes of any meeting are crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the event. If you want the meeting to be productive, make sure that everyone is on task and focused from the beginning.
– Keep things moving. One way to ensure that a meeting stays on track is to keep things moving. This means keeping an agenda and sticking to it, as well as ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak.
– Be prepared for the unexpected. No meeting goes perfectly according to plan, so be prepared for when things go off track. Have backup plans in place for when technology fails or someone gets called away unexpectedly.
– End on a high note. It’s important to end any meeting or event with a positive message and feeling of accomplishment, even if there were bumps along the way!
Here are some of the things you will want to avoid when planning your meeting:
– Being unprepared for meeting technology or venue issues. Nothing is more frustrating than when you’re trying to host a meeting and the technology fails, or there are people who can’t join because of technical difficulties. Make sure that all attendees have access beforehand so there aren’t any surprises on meeting day!
– Avoid overwhelming yourself and your team. So many facilitators show up ready with a million different things that they want to do during an event or meeting. It’s great to have lots of ideas, but realistically all of these ideas are not going to happen within one sitting. Avoid overwhelming yourself and your team by making your plan, and sticking to it.
– Starting too late in the day. This is especially true for international meetings. While it’s tempting to start later in order to accommodate different time zones, starting too late can often mean that people lose focus or get tired by the end of the meeting.
– Going off track. Meetings are not a place for ranting and raving about things unrelated to the meeting topic. If you need to vent, do it before or after the meeting. This will help to keep everyone on task and focused during the meeting itself.
– Not ending on a high note. Just as with any event, it’s important to leave people feeling good about what they’ve accomplished. Whether it was a great meeting or not, make sure that you end on a high note and send everyone off feeling good.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your corporate meeting is a success! For more information on meeting planning and facilitation, please contact us at 609-443-6550. We would be happy to help with your next corporate event!