When we have our own company, or when we work as a manager responsible for contacts with our clients, business meetings are something common. However, if meetings are to bring the expected results every time, we have to learn how to lead them. Of course,
An optimal way of leading a meeting
When we have our own company, or when we work as a manager responsible for contacts with our clients, business meetings are something common. However, if meetings are to bring the expected results every time, we have to learn how to lead them. Of course, this is not an easy task and not everyone knows how to approach it. It is possible even for young managers or entrepreneurs to optimally lead a meeting. However, they either have to possess some inner talent in this field, or they have to learn this skill by reading through articles such as this one. We will try to present to you how to lead a meeting in an effective way, and we will try to answer the question how to properly engage in a professional conversation with our contractors and clients.
Meetings – an inseparable element of every business
In order to sign any business contract or to engage in a lucrative cooperation, it is imperative that we organize and carry out meetings. We meet with clients, business partners, providers, and other people who cooperate with us. In short, we talk with all the people who are somehow related to our business. Every meeting has a certain aim that we should pursue. Unfortunately, this aim can be different depending on the perspectives – our goal might be different from that of our speakers. The rank of the meeting may also vary. Sometimes, a meeting might determine the faith of the entire enterprise, while in other situations it may be a simple obligation that we have to fulfill because our superiors want us to go on such a gathering. Therefore, in such a situation, the conversation with our client or contractor might be a mere formality.
The organization of an optimal meeting
Obviously, this is not an easy task. There are many matters that have to be carefully thought out if we want to organize an ideal meeting that will proceed exactly the way we planned and that will bring the expected results. It is best to act step by step, gradually, in order to reach the important points of our meeting. The preparation of gatherings is a very important task that belongs to a manager or an entrepreneur. If he neglects this stage, he will not be able to carry out his meeting effectively. In fact, he might as well cancel it. The effects will be similar.
Step one – plan your meeting
The scenario of a gathering that we wish to establish in the near future has to be very carefully prepared. We have to foresee the words and actions of our speakers. It is best to create multiple scenarios in order to prepare ourselves for every possible situation. During a meeting, participants must never feel that they waste their time. If the meeting is to remain in their minds for a long time, we have to stimulate their interest by means of an interesting presentation or a good offer.
When we begin the planning stage of our meeting, we have to answer two important questions – What is the aim of the gathering? What do we want to achieve? We should think about the answers in relation to ourselves and our company as a whole. A meeting might aim at sharing some new information, spreading important data, presenting an offer, presenting a letter of intent concerning cooperation, negotiating contracts, etc. The forms of meetings can be very different. A meeting during which we want to engage in cooperation with a business partner has a totally different form than a gathering during which contract details are negotiated with a client. This is why we should approach the planning stage of every meeting individually every time. There are no universal scenarios for business meetings. Any common patterns prove to be useless. People tend to be unpredictable, and meetings are no different in this respect. This is another obstacle that makes it difficult to optimally carry out a meeting, regardless of its subject or aim.
The aim of our meeting sometimes determines the kind of people that are going to be its participants. If we want to confirm the terms of agreement, we have to meet with our client’s representative. However, if we are to present an offer, we should meet with our client personally and not with his or her subordinate. We are to convince our client to take up our offer; he will be the one who will pay for the whole business, not his representative. Nobody will make a decision for him, so it is best to talk with a competent person from the start. Generally speaking, the establishment of a clear goal of our meeting should serve as a starting point for all other actions related to it, not to mention the way in which we are going to lead it.
Step two – gather the necessary information and materials
Knowing the aim of a meeting, we can proceed to the gathering of materials necessary for its successful preparation. If we are to present an offer to a client during the meeting, we have to prepare it beforehand. Most often, entrepreneurs write down the details of their offer on a piece of paper. It is a good choice because that which is written is better memorized than spoken words. We should write down the most important points in bold – especially such matters as the offer’s assets, the final price, and the costs of delivery. A short computer presentation, pamphlets, and small gifts prove to be nice supplements to such a written document. First, however, they have to be gathered so that they can be given to the audience at the right moment. We should prepare the materials for our meeting very carefully because we have to bear in mind that these items will be the only things left for our client after the meeting is over. If our client has the most important matters concerning the meeting gathered in one place, it will be much easier for him or her to make a quick and good decision – from our point of view.
An offer presented or given to our client during a meeting should be clear and well organized so that he can find information easily and make some notes in reference to specific points mentioned in the document. He may want to ask some questions later on.
Step three – the choice of the date and the place of our meeting
It may seem strange, but the choice of the date and the place of a meeting may determine whether or not it will be successful. It is best to carry out a meeting with a client in our company or in a restaurant or café. We do not advise to organize such meetings in fast food diners. These places are usually very noisy; it is difficult to communicate under such circumstances. The date of the meeting is also of interest to the person who wishes to be its leader. A gathering must not be organized too early, nor can it be scheduled for late hours. It is best to organize meetings during lunchtime because this is the period of the day in which entrepreneurs and company representatives usually may find some time for us.
Step four – the initiation of the meeting
When our speakers appear in the place we wanted to meet, we can begin leading our optimal meeting. It is not a big secret that first impression is very important. If at first glance we become labeled as incompetent or unfriendly, the whole meeting might not proceed the way we planned. Sometimes, the first five minutes prove to be enough to determine whether it will be successful or not. The first exchange of words with our contractor or business partner may prove to be crucial. Therefore, we have to work on creating a good impression on our speakers from the very beginning of our business conversation.
First of all, we must not come late to our business meeting. Such behavior cannot be excused in any way. Therefore, it is best to come to the place much earlier just to make sure that nobody will have to wait for us.
The next important thing is to properly dress up for the meeting. Neat, professional clothes are the best choice. Shorts are unacceptable, even if it is extremely hot, and the sun shines mercilessly. It is good to choose a suit or a two-piece.
Step five – once the meeting starts
On a business meeting, we should not get straight to the point. First, we should exchange courtesies and speak about small matters not related to business. We can talk about the restaurant in which the meeting takes place or even about the current weather. We should shift to more important subjects gradually. If we begin our meeting by talking about the most difficult matters which might lead to differing opinions, it is very likely that the meeting will not end well, and this is a situation we would like to avoid.
If we want to optimally lead a meeting, we should leave the most difficult and controversial matters for late stages. However, they should not be talked about at the very end of the meeting because unpleasant subjects raised at the end remain for a long time in the minds of our speakers. Though no one should deny the importance of a first impression, the way the meeting ends is equally important. Our speaker must not leave the gathering in a bad mood. He has to return to his office with a very positive impression of ourselves and our company. In such a situation, there is a high probability that we will sign a lucrative contract or engage in a very beneficial cooperation.
We can optimally lead a meeting only if we carefully prepare ourselves for it. Without a proper plan of conversation with our client or business partner, we will not be able to achieve our goals. We have to remember to prepare several scenarios of events. Sometimes, the conversation might not go the way we want. Let us not get surprised, and let us prepare answers for even the most uncomfortable questions.
It is not only important what we say – the order of the points listed in our meeting plan is also something very important. If we make a good impression on our client, he will remember us well and will be more eager to engage in business activities with our company. First impression can truly be a decisive factor when it comes to business meetings. We must never leave our speaker in a bad mood. We should try to eliminate his doubts and to make him fully satisfied with what he saw and heard.