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The 7-step guide to mastering meetings

Meetings can be tricky business. London is the number one EMEA city in terms of meetings and events activity, with conferences and meetings accounting for nearly £20 billion of the UK events industry.

These numbers defy the common myth that meetings are the biggest obstacle to getting work done. How can you ensure that your next meeting is boosting productivity? We’re here to help you find the balance between the art of defining a meeting’s purpose and the science of managing it for best results.

1. Create an intimate atmosphere

Creating intimacy doesn’t mean rose petals and scented candles, nor does it mean squashing your delegates into a broom closet. Think Goldilocks and the three bears: the room size should be just right. While small rooms can make your delegates feel cramped and claustrophobic, selecting a room that is too large will make the atmosphere sparse and cold.

Work with your venue to select the perfect room, that will comfortably accommodate all of your attendees plus a little extra space to stretch their legs and break out into smaller discussion groups, if required. While we’re getting physical, you should also take note of other important environmental factors, such as keeping the temperature on the cool side and providing plenty of natural light. You can find more tips on creating the right environment here.

2. Get the technology right

87% of workers experience stress in meetings when the technology is difficult to use or doesn’t work as expected. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting the first 15 minutes of your meeting struggling with setting up a conference call or connecting your laptop to the projector.

We believe the right technology is important in helping you collaborate better and master your meetings. That’s why our rooms are equipped with data projectors and screens, plus built-in audio visual services and a team on-site to help your meetings run smoothly.

3. Make sure everybody arrives prepared

We’ve talked in the past about the important of setting clear agendas to maintain focus and structure your day. What else can you do to ensure your delegates arrive ready to contribute to your next meeting?

The modern workplace is more collaborative than ever and you should ensure that all meeting related documents - such as agendas, notes and supporting collateral that will inform discussion – is stored in a central place for delegates to access. This small step will go a long way to improve the effectiveness of both your meeting and your delegates.

4. Determine roles in your meeting

Formal meetings depend on structure to prioritise topics and get what you want out of the day. There are four important roles that you must define for meetings mastery: a leader, a facilitator, a recorder and a time keeper.

The leader is the person that takes responsibility for the communication before, during and after the meeting. The facilitator keeps the discussion and decision-making process ticking along; they’re not typically engaged in the content of the meeting. The recorder is crucial, their job is to take minutes, record key points and keep a list of actions from the day which can then be circulated. And last but not least, the timekeeper...

5. Keep an eye on the clock

Whilst the last thing you want in your meeting is for delegates to watch the clock wondering if it’s nearly time to go home, it is important to make sure your meetings run on time. There’s nothing worse than a speaker running vastly over their dedicated slot when your delegates are desperate for another cup of coffee.

Keep your meetings productive by assigning a timekeeper. The timekeeper’s job is simple: respect your delegate’s time and attention span by ensuring your meeting stays on track as much as possible. This will have the bonus effect of making sure you cover every item on the agenda. Stopwatch is optional.

6. Encourage delegates to unplug

It’s to be expected that your delegates will arrive with their own personal devices in tow, from mobile phones and tablets to laptops. Using a digital device to take notes or refer to a document is fine… subtly checking Facebook, Twitter, and whether your latest order shipped, is not.

Set an expectation by asking delegates to ‘unplug’. Download the meetings materials they need, open up their word processing software, set their phone to silent – and devote their full attention to the meeting taking place. You can alleviate their withdrawal symptoms by allowing a 5-minute device break every hour or so if their thumbs are starting to twitch.

7. Conduct a meeting post-mortem

As your meeting draws to a close, set aside time to highlight what the next steps will be for all those involved. Scheduling time at the end of your meeting to conduct a post-mortem will allow you to evaluate the day, as well as outline processes, deliverable and responsibilities to move forward with your business strategy and wider objectives.

Looking for your next training and meetings venue? We know that developing your future involves a comfortable and stimulating environment just as much as it requires the latest tools and technology.
Immerse yourself in our state-of-the-art facility with our virtual venue tour, or contact the team directly on +44 (0)20 7069 4723 or centred@excel.london.