The perfect meeting
What does it take to make your meeting more efficient and inspiring? We've put together our best tips from our experienced staff at our conference hotels. It's how the invitation can be designed to how to liven up the meeting socially, even for those who aren’t social butterflies and how you follow up meetings.
Meetings these days are far from perfect
More than 9 out of 10 Swedish managers believe that meetings play an important role in the success of the organisation, while over half of the meeting time is inefficient. There is great room for improvement, so we have asked our conference hotels, who are experts in running meetings and conferences, and put together our best tips for the perfect meeting. We believe this guide could save your company both time and money.
Things to consider before the meeting
To call for a meeting means asking people to devote their time and energy, so you should ask yourself if the meeting is necessary, so your purpose and goals are clear.
Think about which people you need to attend in order for the goal to be achieved. Consider bringing in an outside guest to contribute inspiration.
Write the agenda so that everyone knows what will be happening at the meeting. If you expect anything of the participants, this is the place to write it down.
Is the meeting suitable for the conference room or somewhere out in town? If it's a big meeting, visit the place beforehand to check the equipment and ensure the food has been ordered.
The meeting invitation is the place where you should include the answers to these points. The minimum information necessary is time, participants, location, transport and purpose.
Scandic's Taste Break, served in the afternoon. The photo shows the Taste Break available at Swedish hotels, with influences from international cuisine
Rules for a more enjoyable meeting
Prepare some meeting rules in order to derive the most benefit possible, help creativity flow freely and remove unnecessary distractions.
- Prohibit mobile phones
Mobile phones are the greatest distraction. Ask the participants to leave their mobiles in a box or something similar.
- Close your laptop
The screen creates a barrier between you and the participants. If absolutely necessary, one of the participants can be in charge of taking notes and sending them out afterwards.
- Don't forget about the breaks
Mild panic may ensue if no contact with the outside world is permitted. Ensure regular breaks for leg-stretching and visits to the toilet.
- Listen to everyone's opinion
Everyone has a different way of communicating their thoughts. It's important to allow everyone to contribute with their opinions, so let all participants be heard of.
- Stand up meetings
To have a meeting doesn't necessarily mean to sit down. Be bold – try a meeting with a difference. Standing up throughout a meeting or at certain times increases blood flow and helps the thinking process.
- Reach out with your message
Everyone absorbs information differently, some visually, others by means of discussion. Some need to see figures, others prefer mind maps on the board. The point is that a meeting with varied means of communication will be more effective in reaching more people.
Break the ice to allow for a more open meeting atmosphere.
A meeting is a social game and the meeting room is the playing field. Here are some useful tips to lighten the mood and get participants to drop their guard a little.
- Set the open tone in advance
Send out personalised descriptions of all the participants before the meeting to help lower any barriers in advance.
- Make fun of yourself
To show a little weakness to get others to drop their guard a bit can create a stronger impression for the meeting, especially when you are the leader of the meeting.
Try to break up the rigidity of the meeting. This can be done by standing rather than sitting, or asking the participants to form a circle instead of classroom seating.
- Mini breaks
To spend time with each other and having a discussion are key to a more personal meeting. Make some space in the agenda for this and you'll notice that the meeting will be more creative.
- Use an Americanism
In the US it's common for the leader of the meeting to share an informal event that has taken place that day. You'll get an immediate response and the meeting will get on the right foot and, if you want to take it a step further, find a way to link the event to the purpose of the meeting.
After the meeting the ideas need to become a reality. Here is a simple checklist for how to end the perfect meeting.
- Thank everyone
A thank-you email should be sent within 24 hours, preferably that same evening after the meeting. The email should be brief; it's the thought that counts.
Send a summary of the agenda and decisions (maybe with some notes attached), but keep it short, you don't want to lose the participants' interest.
- Clarify any next steps
The summary should contain a crystal clear description of future action. Decisions reached and who needs to do what are a couple of examples.
If the meeting was long/big, an evaluation is a good idea. Use an online survey with just enough questions to ensure a high response rate. Best of all is to have an evaluation procedure so the meetings really have a chance to improve over time.
A positive attitude throughout is important, never forgetting to give positive feedback during the meetings – this is just as important as constructive criticism.