Prior to the start there are several things to consider before every meeting:
- Seating is adequate and if you are using a screen or sound then it has been properly tested so that everybody can see and hear.
- If you are providing drinks and/or snacks ensure everything is ready.
- Make sure the toilet is stocked. It’s not good when you run out of paper.
- Check in with all speakers to ensure they are ready. You can also check if they like to be introduced in any specific way.
- Start on time – Always keep your audience informed especially if you are going to start late. People who are always on time get upset when they don’t. If you don’t placate them by informing them of the current status, such as being late and why, you can lose their attention. In our business it is important to appreciate this.
- People respond differently to different personalities. Every speaker whether introducing speakers or speaking should ensure they create listening in the whole audience.
Whoever opens the meeting should ensure that everybody is at the correct meeting. Validating this with your audience goes a long way towards opening up their listening. You would be surprised at how many people often have no idea why they are attending. Many people are invited to meetings in our business and the purpose has been clearly delivered. However, many people will not know when you ask them why they came. In many cases they will say because a friend invited me or it sounded interesting.
Make sure you prime them for your meeting and the speaker(s).
There are many ways to get people listening and they should all be something interesting, things everyone in your audience can relate to.
Always introduce yourself and who you are.
Examples of openers:
- Anybody have problems parking?
- What do you expect from this meeting?
- I want to check with you to see if we are all on the same page.
- Who has been invited by a friend?
- Who came out of curiosity?
An important thing to remember is ensuring you connect with every single person. Examples:
- Anybody have difficulty getting here? Who didn’t?
- Is this your first meeting? Who has been to other meetings?
The key is to get acknowledgement by covering all the bases. Ensuring what you say covers everybody present.
Finally tell them what you are going to talk about or what the meeting is about. Always keep people informed. No surprises.