How to Host a Small Business Meeting Like a Big Corporation

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rf2eThe recent mass growth of small business start-ups has all but dominated the global marketplace, some making hundreds of millions of dollars each year, as their new and innovative way of working is much more adaptable to reaching the modern consumer. However, there will always be some lessons that small companies will have to learn from the big companies. Hosting meetings is one of them, whether it is an online gathering for the work team, potential new clients, or a large seminar. Here are just a few ways that small businesses can hold talks just as effectively as their industry leaders:

Be Prepared

One of the reasons large corporations have become so successful, and remained successful even during difficult economic times, is that they are fully prepared to solve problems, rather than letting them ruin their business. SmallBizTrends says that no matter how good your digital technology is, it will still encounter problems at some point, usually completely unexpectedly, which can be disastrous. A presentation that you have spent weeks or even months preparing for can quickly be derailed by a technical fault. You can avoid major setbacks such as these by being prepared for hardware or software failures. Have a backup device ready, keep tech support on standby, and test all of your equipment before an important meeting. Don’t forget to also have your software supplier’s customer support line ready. If you do encounter a problem, the way you deal with it will say a lot more about you and recover your reputation.

Write up an Agenda

The Dummies Guide suggests that another way you can be prepared is to write up and distribute an agenda beforehand, just as the large companies do. This may feel like pointless and outdated procrastination designed to bog calls down with an unnecessarily large amount of discussion points. The truth is that they are designed for the opposite purpose. By keeping the conference structured, they can be used to avoid distraction and overly long discussions and keep the meeting focused and on schedule. Writing up an agenda before the event will help you to identify which points you mean to raise during the seminar and what you should avoid. Distributing it to others who will be attending will also allow them to be prepared with questions or issues of their own.

Stick to Your Time Frame

While your prepared agenda will help with this, it is important to keep your event from running overtime. Not only is it unprofessional, but attendees will likely lose their concentration if the meeting goes on for too long and it will keep everybody from their regular jobs. While writing up your agenda, be sure to make a note of how long you intend each point to last for. If you can’t find time for all of your points, it is an indication that you should cut some of them out. Put your most important points at the top of the agenda and schedule a few minutes at the beginning for late comers and to allow people to get to know each other, which has the added benefit of building up a rapport. Keep an eye on the time and try to bring the conversation back on-topic if it goes off on a tangent. Most of all, be sure to finish on time. Nobody wants to sit through a meeting that goes on for too long.

Allow Everyone to Contribute

The downside of the boardroom was that the person standing up and giving their presentation naturally dominated the entire room and the big boss at the end of the table had a much larger influence over everybody else. It was easy for people to be ignored. A large advantage of business video conferencing is that everybody’s face appears in a small window, with no one larger or smaller than the other. This evens up the playing field much more and makes it much easier for each person in attendance to make their own contribution. There may still be some shy people or extroverts who try to talk over others and dominate the conversation. While running the session, try to keep things as level as possible, encourage others to make their points without making them feel too pressured, and encourage the more outspoken members of the team to give others their turn.

The reason small companies have been catching up with and sometimes even beating the large companies at their own game is because they are adapting to new technology such as online conferencing. However, there will always be something that the small business owner can learn from the CEO, and perhaps even vice-versa. Finding a good balance of old and new meeting tactics will benefit both.

Published by Kidal Delonix (763 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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