Business meetings are critical to the success of your company. They allow for short- and long-term planning, while encouraging collaboration and dialogue. In a time where employees are used to working with freelancers or in different locations around the world, it’s helpful to get some face time with your team. To make sure your business meeting is an absolute success, you’ve got to cover the basics—like creating a schedule and organizing post-meeting dinners.
But what else can you do to ensure that employees leave feeling accomplished? These six simple tips will keep employees feeling engaged and appreciated—leading to better teamwork and, ultimately, business success.
1. Avoid Short Notice
It’s the number one rule of event planning—give your attendees enough advance notice. This ensures that they can actually make the event, and avoids any rushing on their part. Business meetings are no different, especially if you want participation and engagement. You don’t want your employees to feel like they had to make last-minute adjustments to their schedule. It’s just not good for morale.
For business meetings, the more employees you’re inviting, the longer lead time you should give them. This also allows you more time to coordinate meeting space, catering, and any additional requests.
Of course, RSVPs work differently for a business meeting—it’s typically assumed that everyone invited needs to be there, and will only decline if there’s a major conflict. But even so, giving employees time to plan accordingly will help with both attendance and participation rates.
2. Avoid Long Drives From the Airport
You might not be able to move a corporate office, but if you’re planning to meet at a half-way point, choose one that’s easy to get to. This is a courtesy to anyone attending, but it’s also a strategic move. If the meeting spot is close to an airport—or public transportation if everyone is local—this saves on travel costs. No one has to pay extra to rent a car, or taxi to the business meeting. Plus, if the meeting starts in the morning, guests will have to fly in the night before to get to a far-away meeting spot.
On top of saving costs, a convenient location also means more time for the meeting. You won’t need to factor in half the attendees leaving an hour early to make it to the airport on time. Instead, you’ll be able to have a full agenda—and no one will be late!
3. Avoid Holidays
Yes, we do mean major holidays—that’s a given. But also consider who on the attendance list has kids on school break, too. Not all families take traditional vacations during school break; they may plan fun evening outings instead. While you can’t entirely cater to every attendee, there are only a few school breaks each year—and it’s likely that those dates overlap for multiple employees.
Bonus Tip: If you’re worried about availability, propose 2-3 dates to the team, and choose the one that receives the most votes.
4. Avoid Allergens
Are you providing meals or snacks for attendees? If so, include a note about food allergies with the official invitation. You don’t have to go overboard—someone who has allergies is used to speaking up, so they know the drill. But it’s a considerate gesture for your employees, and saves you potential stress. If you don’t preface the meals, come lunch time, you might find yourself with employees who can’t eat the food that’s provided. Now, you have to find alternative options last-minute.
5. Avoid Inclement Weather
You can’t control the weather—we know that, you know that, your employees know that. There’s no guarantee that the week of your business meeting will be sunny and comfortable. You also can’t ignore that there are strategic times of year for your business. It just makes sense to plan a business meeting around theses strategic times.
But do your best to consider the overall season where you’re planning the meeting. It’s risky to schedule the gathering in the Midwest in the middle of winter. Employees might have a difficult time getting to and leaving from the business meeting.
Also consider where your employees are coming from. Maybe the meeting is in Florida, but half the team is flying in from the Midwest. Try to avoid a winter meeting. Even though the Florida sunshine might be a relief, attendees might not like leaving their family when there’s a higher risk of weather damage.
6. Avoid Long Days
You certainly have a lot to accomplish at your business meeting, and you want to take advantage of everyone being present for collaboration and discussion. But when you’re creating your schedule, be sure to set clear breaks—and stick to them! Sitting in a chair all day under fluorescent lighting is draining.
To keep the dialogue going and to hold attention, take regular time to stretch, walk around, and refill water bottles. You’ll not only end up with a more productive meeting—but everyone will still be participating at the end of the day.
Bonus Tip: Usually breaks are the first thing to be removed from a schedule. Avoid this by leaving 30 minutes of buffer time in your schedule. If your day ends at 5, only plan through 4:30. This allows for conversations to trail without sacrificing break time.
Your team is important—we don’t have to tell you that! Consider their needs when you’re planning your next business meeting. There’s no reason to go over the top with fine dining catering or five star hotels. But paying attention to small details, like location of your meeting and regular breaks, will benefit the productivity of the meeting—and the success of your company.
Recall the last business meeting you attended. Was it successful from your perspective—why or why not?