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Ten Top Meeting Tips

1) Set a Budget - It is virtually essential that you set a budget before you delve into the actual meeting planning. Consider leaving a tad bit of breathing room in your budget for those inevitable unforeseen expenses that are bound to arise along the way. Be sure to consider overnight accommodations, transportation, meeting room rental cost and all associated fees, A/V equipment rentals, catering, tipping, taxes, and entertainment, when establishing your budget. You could refer to our Meeting Request Form as a reference guide,

2.) Set Meeting Objectives - Set objectives before the meeting! Jot down a few statements of what you would hope to accomplish by the end of the meeting including new ideas generated, action plans for the future, etc. When you are finished with this, you will be primed to develop your complete meeting agenda (see tip #8). The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be.

3) Choose a Date - Flexibility will allow you greater options when it comes to pricing and site selection, so try to have at least three dates in mind. Being open to off-periods when a hotel or conference facility isn't as busy can help your negotiations. Consider entertainment or team building activities that may be seasonal when planning your meeting.

4) Site Selection & Location - It is important to carefully weigh your options when it comes to site selection and location. While holding a meeting on site may seem like a cost-effective option, experience shows that the unavoidable office distractions will hinder meeting success. Upfront facility expenses are frequently recovered in increased productivity. Off-site locations provide attendees with a fresh outlook and the ability to truly focus on the agenda at hand. As soon as it has been settled to host your meeting off-site, the real fun begins! Are you interested in a mountain location, a warm sunny beach setting, or an exciting center city meeting?

5) The Space - There are so many variables involved in each aspect of planning a meeting that it's easy to overlook something important. Consider Lighting and its effect on viewing a projection screen versus taking notes; Temperature - will you be able to control the heating/cooling of the room you're in; Capacity - you must not only adhere to legal fire codes, but each hotel will have its own minimum and maximum capacities; and Seating Style - are you interested in theater style, classroom, conference style, or U-shaped. Be certain to consider whether the speaker or screen(s) will be visible from every attendee's seat considering columns, low ceilings, and other obstructions to the participants' view. Will there be noise distractions - thin walls, nearby kitchen, busy road traffic, intercom system, foot traffic in the hallway, etc.?

6) Meeting Participation - When possible, try to plan your meeting well in advance, allowing the necessary participants to clear their schedules for the designated day(s). Only reserve the meeting date when you are certain that all key people will be in attendance.

7) Choose a Format - You will need to consider this prior to developing your final meeting agenda. Will you hire a guest speaker? How many executives from your company will make presentations? Will you need a Powerpoint presentation? Who will create the Powerpoint? Consider any documentation that will help you achieve your meeting goals (data and charts, competitive information, sales reports, production plans, or notes/correspondence from previous related meetings). If you will require assistance, assign tasks well in advance so as not to interrupt employees' regular daily schedule. Be aware that if you're planning to use the same room for several presenters or meetings, you need to decide the best configuration for all the different presentations.

8) Pre-Meeting Preparations - The best way to realize the greatest degree of efficiency is to provide an agenda and any necessary handouts beforehand to all meeting participants. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics that will be covered, and a list of speakers who will address each topic with a timeframe. When distributing the agenda, include the time, date, and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to partake in an informed discussion on the meeting topic(s). Designate someone to take the meeting minutes.

9) Know the Venue Specifics - Every hotel or conference center is different in terms of the services they provide. There is a property out there that will perfectly suit your meeting planning needs; it just may take a bit of legwork to ensure you have found the perfect location for your meeting. Are tables, chairs, podium included? You will also need to inquire about table coverings and/or table skirts, water and glasses for attendees, notepads and pencils, dishes of candy at each table, a stage or stage props such as a plants or an American flag if necessary, easels or sign holders and signs to direct attendees to the proper room, flip charts or other props for presenters, and extension cords, power strips, and extra tables for projection equipment. Do they provide audio-visual equipment? If the venue provides these, does it also provide technical staff to set up and handle any problems with the equipment, should they arise? Find out early which items you'll need to rent from an outside supplier to give yourself enough time to make the necessary arrangements.

10) Hire a Meeting Planner - Outsourcing event planning can save a lot of time and headache. With so many variables and logistics, some aspects are simply beyond your control, and others are bound to be overlooked. The hotel you choose may overbook, the caterer might be a no-show, or your guest speaker may have an airline delay. Being able to reduce your stress by pinning the responsibility on a professional meeting planner like EasyMeetings.com is invaluable to the majority of today's busy executives. EasyMeetings.com has planned thousands of meetings and is well-versed in every detail necessary to implement a successful and productive meeting.

We invite you to visit our sister company in the United Kingdom for help with planning events in England. Much like us they provide the same type meeting planning services.

We also have a companion article ot this one on Golf and Spa Meetings.

For expert advice on how to accompish the task of having a great meeting, retain one of our Professional Meeting Planners by filling out our contact form or calling 877.465.3368

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