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8 practical tips for a foolproof business meeting

How to get the most out of meetings with suppliers
By Entrepreneur Staff |

Business meetings are unpredictable: they can be extremely productive or crushingly boring.

Here are eight tips to make sure your meeting is a success:

Before the meeting

• Know what it’s all about
A genuine business meeting has a purpose, so make sure you know what your purpose is.

• Think about it
Plan your meeting based on the issue or issues you want to address. Ask yourself: Will it be formal, casual, public or exclusive? Visualize how you want the meeting to proceed, and prepare supplies and equipment.  

• Send out invitations
Send out your memo, letter or e-mail one week before in-house meetings and two to four weeks before any meeting requiring travel. Include the agenda and the names of the participants, and ask the addressees to reply.

• Think ahead
If you need to call a teleconference or videoconference, note the time differences and send
all materials in advance. Have a backup plan in case the lines go dead during the meeting. And since conferencing can be expensive, stick to your agenda.

During the meeting

• Be prompt
Late meetings suggest that you’re not in control, so make sure you start on time. Designate someone to take the minutes.

• Take charge
Encourage full participation and keep the talks on track, but take a break after every hour or hour and a half. Announce what time the meeting will resume—not how long the break will be. A 10-minute break usually means a 20-minute one.

After the meeting

Follow up
Send a recap memo to all participants. This can also serve as your thank-you note for their attendance.

Rate yourself
Give yourself an honest evaluation of how your meeting went, and then decide how you can improve on the next one.

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This article was originally published in the June 2005 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.

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