Learn How To Organize, Run And Lead the Effective Business Meeting
Sometimes a great product or superior service just isn’t enough. You may need to seal the business deal with a face-to-face meeting that requires a certain amount of dexterity and interpersonal know-how. It takes preparation, practice and no small amount of leadership.
Should someone suggest that you lay out your plan or your pitch over the phone, in a snapshot, you would be wise not to fall for that trap. Attempting to tell your entire story in a two- or three-minute spiel is like trying to jump out of a car at 60 miles per hour. Don’t do it. The result will be one big jumbled mess and a no, thank you at the other end of the line. The better approach is to ask to schedule a meeting with your customer or would-be client. This conveys the seriousness of your idea and usually generates a scheduled date on the calendar.
And that is where our top 5 tips and tricks to organize, run, and lead effective business meeting comes in place. So without further redo, let's take a look.
Above All, Sell Yourself
Once the meeting has been set, you will have a platform to not only sell the benefits of your company and its service or product, but also to sell yourself. The only way to do this effectively is to be true to yourself, to your life and business philosophy and to your personal brand. This is your story and, ultimately, one of the most important factors in establishing trust and a strong rapport with those in the meeting.
This doesn’t mean that the meeting should be all about you or your business model. A key to any good, fruitful conversation is involving others in the experience as well. People love to talk about themselves, so before launching into your proposal or your concept, engage the person or persons across the table from you. Let them share their stories, allow them to find their comfort zone. It’s much easier to sell something to someone who is relaxed and accepting than to one who is uptight and guarded.
There are few tricks to convey the message you have to tell.
- Always quantify your achievements and their impact on you and other relevant parties
- Ask unique questions. This will make you memorable in the sea of other applicants
- Make sure you say things right. Being neglectant about even small things can easily make you look a reckless person
- Prepare meaningful anecdotes. It is often forgotten as overrated, but a good anecdote, perhaps with a funny point, will always work as every good marketers will tell you. Storytelling is still a thing.
Determining the Need
By listening to others, you also discover points of commonality, which you can seize upon to improve your selling position. If you know what a person’s interests or weak spots are, you can capitalize on that knowledge.
In that same vein, be sure to ask what a person’s specific business goals are for the year, and what obstacles may block the path. The more open and interested you appear to be, the easier it is to broach other topics that might inevitably lead to a sale or to securing an agreement.
Sometimes to determine the other party's needs one has to go the extra step and:
- Observe body language. It will teach you how to listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Read more about this interesting topic in this guide by Fremont College.
- Identify emotional cues. Look how they react on your behaviour in response. Are they communicating with each other just with eyes? How do they look?
- Recognise physical responses. A person who is angry may tend to raise his voice and clench his fists, sometimes just really slightly. Negative emotions may bring out the worst in people and create tension amongst others.
The Doctor Is In
At all times, remember that you are the problem solver, the doctor as it were. So whenever you meet resistance or uncertainty, you should have another solution in mind or at least an alternate way of approaching the stalemate. If you don’t have a backup plan at that time, express optimism that…with a bit of thinking…you can come up with a slightly different approach that will satisfy everyone’s concerns.
By playing the problem solver role, you are able to effectively maintain your leadership position in the meeting. This is key because, as the leader, you control the conversation, no matter how subtly. Once you allow others to assume leadership, you no longer control the direction of the meeting or its final outcome.
Most importantly, do your homework. This is true whether you are meeting with an individual for the first time or conducting an internal brainstorming session with your staff. If you don’t know all the answers to the questions you are asking, you should at least know enough to make the question pertinent and thought-provoking. Lack of preparation becomes quickly apparent, and it can rapidly put a damper on a conversation that was filled with promise just moments earlier.
A Journey, Not a Sprint
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to achieve a sale, obtain approval on a concept or reach consensus on a plan is in believing that there must be a resolution by the end of the meeting. Unless you’re up against a tight deadline, this isn’t necessarily the case. It may take two, three or more meetings to finalize the deal. But the very fact that your idea or your product is deemed worthy of another get-together is a victory in itself.
The fact is, there is not a singular type of perfect meeting. Each is unique and dependent upon the players and many other contributing factors. When you go in with confidence, stay on point and maintain leadership and control, however, the results may ultimately translate into the perfect that you are seeking.
A Bonus Point
We felt like 5 is a magical number, but since you made it this far, we wanted to do something for you, to make something special - to give you point number 6.
Run Meeting Like A Pro
WoW! What a useful idea, right?
Before the Meeting
The most important question you should ask is:
- What is this meeting intended to achieve?
- What would be the likely consequences of not holding it?
- When it is over, how shall I judge whether it was a success or a failure?
But unless you have a very clear requirement from the meeting, there is a grave danger that it will be a waste of everyone’s time.
Defining the objective
If you are trying to use a meeting to achieve definite objectives, there are in practice only certain types of objectives it can really achieve. Every item on the agenda can be placed in one of the four categories, or divided up into sections that fall into one or more of them.
- Executive responsibilities
- Legislative framework
It may look like an obvious thing to do, but a lot of meetings start with no clear sense of purpose. The meeting’s agenda should be summarized on handout, written on a whiteboard or discussed explicitly, but everyone should know why they’ve gathered and what they’re supposed to be accomplishing.
The agenda provides a compass for the conversation, so make it clear next time you sit down with your potential business partners in their office.
Waiting for the person in charge to show up can be really boring and sleepy experience which nobody likes - and for a reason. Why would they? They showed up. Why do so many people fall into the bad habit of being late for meetings? Is it just that they’re so busy? Or is it just a reminder that their time is somehow more valuable than everyone else’s?
Time is money, of course, and all that sitting around and trying to guess when the missing people may arrive is a waste of a everyone's resources.
Have a Follow-Up Action Plan
At the end of the meeting leave a time slot for dicussion on what is going to happen next. This discussion should include deciding who is responsible for what, and what are the deadlines. Want to propose follow-up document sent? Or would you like to send everyone that voucher for your free services and/or goods to promote it? Make sure to inform everyone in a friendly yet efficient spirit about your intentions.
Wrap It Up
To wrap this article up, make sure you wrap up your meeting. Make sure you, or someone else has been taking notes so you avoid annoying calls about things you forgot, and in few sentences bring about what was agreed on the meeting.