How to Prepare for a Business Meeting in 4 Easy Steps

By June 29, 2022Corporate MC, Post
How To Prepare For A Business Meeting

Ding! Your calendar just reminded you to prepare for the quarterly board meeting next week.

Your department has had a stellar business quarter and you can’t wait to discuss it. But what should you do to prepare for the meeting?

Here’s how to PREP:

See Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Corporate Event

Meeting PREP#1: Pinpoint who is running the meeting.

Sometimes wires get crossed and everyone shows up to a meeting being led by… no one.

Prepare to avoid this unfortunate scenario by confirming well in advance who will be running the meeting.

What if it’s me?

If it’s you, immediately prepare a to-do list and calendar of when you will complete each item. (For ideas of what should go on the to-do list, keep reading!)

Depending on the sort of meeting, you may have lots of preparation to do, or very little.

Either way, do yourself a favor by checking who is running the meeting early. If you are the former, you may have an entire presentation to put together! (Not to mention your act as a corporate emcee!)

Don’t save your presentation for the meeting time

I highly encourage you to rehearse your talking points. Not so much that you sound robotic, but enough that you feel comfortable with the ideas, language, and timing of it all.

I’ve been a professional speaker for many years and I still practice!

Research group attend meetings to map out next steps in research effortMeeting PREP #2: Recognize your goal.

With access to lightning-fast digital communication, some feel that productive business meetings are, well, anything but. Define your meeting purpose with clear objectives.

To avoid running unproductive meetings, define your meeting objectives early on.

Take advantage of having a group of participants together in one place (whether in person or over conference call).

Your goal may be:

  • To reach a consensus on a particular matter
  • To introduce a new board member to team members, and vice versa
  • To give those running for executive leadership a platform to make speeches and answer questions
  • To host a creative brainstorming session about ideas for next quarter’s marketing strategy

No matter what the goal is, it should center around having meeting participants together. Otherwise, why couldn’t this have been an email?

Set a clear agenda

You may have a defined goal, but a loquacious group can throw any meeting off track. Avoid this by creating an agenda, an outline of topics and at exactly what meeting time they will be discussed.

I recommend distributing the agenda to team members before the meeting.

This allows them time to:

  • Familiarize themselves with what is to come;
  • Prepare to discuss any questions.

All in all, you’ll save time, which makes for productive business meetings.

Leave room for conversation

This may sound counterproductive, but I recommend building open discussion into your agenda.

Tell the team ahead of time that they’ll have a chance to voice their opinions – at the end.

Why at the end? It is good practice for many reasons, including:

  • Employees will develop ideas throughout the meeting and be eager to work through the agenda;
  • If urgent agenda items were addressed, the team won’t want to stay after the designated end time. This ensures that everyone’s schedules are respected.

Person at computer uses research to create action plan for meetingsMeeting PREP #3: Equipment and materials should be secured.

Do you need a projector for your presentation?

Visual aids?

A speaker to play sound bites?

I promise, you don’t want to be scrambling around for these the morning of the meeting.

Once your agenda is set, decide what if any visual or auditory aids would be useful.

  • Maybe you want to project the blueprint of the building that you’ll be breaking ground on next year.
  • Perhaps there was a heartfelt voicemail left by a volunteer that you’d like to share with the group.
  • Or maybe you want to print out a revised staff directory because the company is growing. You’ve hired eight new people since the last meeting!

No matter what you need, be sure to secure early. Test it out, too. Sometimes audiovisual equipment doesn’t work quite right, or the printer jams. You’ll save yourself lots of stress by completing these tasks early.

Reserve your space

From a conference room to a coffee shop, meeting rooms must be reserved in advance. You never know if other departments or groups want to use the same one.

Avoid awkward run-ins by coordinating with the administrator who handles the space. Ensure that it is available, and that you’ll have enough chairs and tables.

Location impacts a successful meeting

It may be your instinct to host events and business meetings in a conference room or classic meeting room. But you can have effective business meetings in many places, depending on your goals.

Client meetings

For example, a regular meeting room may not be the place to wow your clients. Let’s say you have an important meeting coming up with a client. You want them to invest in your eczema-friendly skincare line.

You could bring them to a formal office with high-backed seats and chilly air conditioning. Or, you could get creative!

Head to a commercial bath and body store. Invite multiple speakers who love your products and can point out why mainstream skincare isn’t always eczema-friendly. Your potential investor will hear personal stories of how your organization helps people.

That is powerful!

JOB INTERVIEW WITH POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES

I’ll say this: job interviews don’t need to feel like traditional business meetings!

They’re all about getting to know each other and finding the right fit. Why does that need to happen in an intimidating office? Let me give you an example.

If you’re hiring, consider this:

Meet the interviewee in a neutral setting, like a coffee shop or mini golf course. Focus on having a good time and getting to know who they are. Bring games or puzzles to see how they solve problems and address concerns.

This example of a creative interview style will set you apart to potential employees. It will also give you a well-rounded picture of the candidate and how they approach problem solving. Think of yourself as your own little master of ceremonies of the job interview. 

Employers go ahead and create comfortable discussion environment by hosting potential employee at neutral locationBonus: 4 Reasons Why Team Building is Important in the Workplace

Meeting PREP #4: Pass information on to the attendees

When it comes to communicating with key participants prior to the meeting, I find it’s all about balance.

You don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information. But you want to provide enough that they can feel prepared.

Here are some tips on how to communicate with attendees:

  • Get the meeting on everyone’s calendars as far in advance as possible. This way, participants can work their schedules around it, instead of the other way around. There are services to help you find the best time for everyone, like X and X.
  • Once the meeting is set, don’t overwhelm participants with communication. Give everyone a reminder a week out, and a 24-hour reminder.
  • If the meeting is virtual, always include the conference call or video conference link.

Prepare for a wrap-up!

The work you put in to planning a business meeting will not go unnoticed. It may seem unnecessary, but I promise that:

  • The meeting will stay on topic because you’ve prepared an agenda;
  • You’ll ensure the meeting begins and end at the appropriate times because you allocated time to all topics discussed;
  • Everything will run smoothly because you’ve prepared all materials and tested all equipment in advance;
  • You will get excellent feedback on a productive meeting!

Business woman plans ahead by practicing the slides she will presentLet’s review how to PREP for a business meeting:

Pinpoint who is running the meeting.

Recognize your goal.

Equipment and materials should be secured.

Pass information on to the attendees.

You are going to nail this meeting!

Keep Reading: 7 Team Building Skills That Will Have Your Team Running Like a Well-Oiled Machine

Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetingsspecial eventsgala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on InstagramFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and YouTube.