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The Ultimate E-Guide to Hosting the Perfect Meeting and Training Events

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a professional business meeting or an educational training event for employees this e-guide guide aims to help you plan your you event with ease.

Have you ever wanted to unlock the secrets to holding a successful meeting or training event? It can often be a difficult task, for businesses and institutions that want to organise a meeting, but do not know how to plan and implement an effective meeting or training event.

Businesses are wasting thousands of pounds each year because of time wasted on poorly planned meetings. This is why it is essential to have an effectively planned meeting and set the agenda with confidence, to ensure that you don’t lose out on potential business deals or creative networking opportunities. In addition, training events become unproductive if they are not properly organised and often companies incur losses through unsuccessful training events. Meetings are vital for management managem and communication. Properly run meetings save time, increase motivation, productivity, and solve problems. Meetings create new ideas and initiatives. Meetings achieve buy-in in which would be essential to the success of your company. Meetings are effective effectiv because the written word only carries 7% of the true meaning and feeling. Meetings are better than telephone conferences because only 38% of the meaning and feeling is carried in the way that things are said. Therefore planning and hosting a meeting or training raining event can create lucrative potential for your business and further spur motivation for employees and participants.

There are many issues that need to be considered when organising a meeting or training event which will be discussed further in this e-guide. Some of the most common issues that arise when planning a meeting involves where to hold the meeting, organising the venue, the number of attendees, the presentations and resources that may be needed and an overview of the overall budget that you have to organise and hold a meeting. If you are looking to hold a training event you may also find that you will need plan your budget effectively to incorporate the necessary marketing and promotional materials that may be needed to run your event effectively. With so much to consider in planning a meeting it may be worth creating a checklist or assign different members of your team or employees to effectively manage different aspects that will be involved in creating the perfect meeting or training event for your company. Whether you are holding

Planning and Budgeting for your Meeting/Training Event 2


accomplishing successful meeting results. You can do all of the needed follow-up, up, but without an effective meeting plan to start, you may not get the results you have hoped ho for. Effective meetings that produce results, begin with meeting planning and if you take the necessary steps in creating a budget and draft plan then you can be one step closer to holding your perfect meeting. It may be beneficial to identify whether other employees are needed to help you plan the meeting. Then, decide what you hope to accomplish by holding the meeting.

The first and most important thing you should do when organising a potential meeting or training event is to create a plan. When establishing a plan for a meeting, keep in mind that sometimes you want to think out of the box in order to expand possibilities. Firstly at the top of your plan you should decide on the budget for your meeting or training event. The budget will act as a guide for your expenditure for the meeting from hotel or venue bookings to the refreshments for the guests and any other further resources you may need for your meeting. It is therefore imperative that you create a checklist of all the essentials that you will need for your meeting e.g venue hire and put next to it the amount it will cost for each of these things. You may find that you are left with more money to spend by setting the budget in advance and seeing what things you may need. However, you may also find that there is a lot to consider and hire out for your meeting and you may need to weigh up what you really need for the meeting and rule unnecessary items out of your meeting or training event. Once you have created a checklist and written down an estimate of the costs you will be able to add up how much it will cost to run the meeting and this will help you when booking your venue and other components such as refreshments for your guests. The actions you take before creating the meeting can help you to establish the groundwork for

Another effective tip on planning the meeting is to establish doable goals for your meeting or training event. It would be unproductive ve to organise a meeting at a five star hotel if you know that this exceeds your budget. Therefore be realistic and work according to your individual budget of your business to ensure that you have enough money for all the other components which will help create the perfect meeting. The goals you set will establish the framework for an effective meeting plan. As Stephen Covey says in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "Begin with the end in mind." Your meeting purpose will determine the meeting focus, fo the meeting agenda, and the meeting participants and will help to further engage your participants and work towards productive success. In developing your meeting plan, ensure that a meeting is the appropriate vehicle

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for accomplishing the set goals which you want to achieve out of your meeting. When you schedule and hold a meeting you need to take account of the number of people attending. So, make efforts to determine that a meeting is the best opportunity to solve the problem, improve the process, or make an ongoing plan. A meeting or training event can create the perfect means to accomplish your goals; therefore it would be worth checking with the participants who must attend for the meeting to succeed. The needed attendees must be available to attend the meeting. Postpone the meeting rather than holding a meeting without critical staff members. If a delegate attends in the place of a crucial decision maker, make sure the designated staff member has the authority to make decisions. •

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Write and circulate notes especially actions and accountabilities Follow up agreed actions and responsibilities

Meeting Venue The venue is an important aspect of your meeting which is why you want to select the most suitable venue for your meeting. Meetings or training events e can be held in a variety of locations from hotel business suites to conference hall your university lecture theatres. However, the price of scheduling a meeting venue varies considerably depending on the number of attendees and the additional resources es that you may need.

A Few Tips for Planning Here is a solid basic structure for most types of meetings. This assumes you have considered properly and decided that the meeting is necessary, and also that you have decided via consultation with those affected if necessary or helpful what sort of meeting to hold.

Many meetings are relatively informal, held in meeting rooms 'on-site' 'on and do not warrant extensive planning of the venue as such. On the other hand, if you are planning a big or important meeting which needs to be held off-site off at unfamiliar venues very definitely require a lot of careful planning of the venue layout and facilities. Plan the venue according to the situation and you should find that your venue will provide you with ample space to conduct your meeting.

Plan your meeting - use your agenda as a planning tool Set and be clear of your budget Circulate the meeting agenda in advance Run the meeting - keep control, agree outcomes, actions and responsibilities, take notes

Venue choice is s critical for certain sensitive meetings, but far less so for routine, in-house house gatherings. Whatever, there are certain preparations that are essential, and never leave it all to the hotel conference organiser or your own facilities department unless you trust them implicitly. Other people will do their

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best but they're not you which is why it is crucial to ensure you hire a trusted venue provider which will help to make things run more smoothly. Often venue providers will not be able to second guess exactly what you want. Therefore you must make a note of all the things you wish to be included for your venue and this could be included in your plan which you can give to your venue provider. You must ensure the room is right - mainly, that it is big enough with all relevant equipment and services. It's too late to start hunting for a 20ft power extension lead five minutes before the meeting starts.

Forr a big important meeting, you should also arrive an hour early to check everything is as you want it. Some meetings are difficult enough without having to deal with domestic or logistics emergencies; and remember if anything goes wrong it reflects on you - it's your credibility, reputation and control that's at stake. Positioning of seating and tables is important, and for certain types of meetings it's crucial. Ensure the layout is appropriate for the occasion: Formal presentations to large groups may be better in a theatre-style theatre or lecture hall venue in order for the audience to be in rows, preferably with tables, facing the chairman and this would be an ideal venue for a training event.

Other aspects that you need to check or even set up personally are: • • •

• • •

• • • •

Medium-sized sized participative meetings horse-shoe shoe designed table layout lay with the open part of the U facing the chairman's table, or delegates' tables arranged 'cabaret' style. Small meetings for debate and discussion - board-room board style would work well with a one rectangular table with chairman at one end. A relaxed team meeting eeting for planning and creative sessions would work better with a lounge style venue, with easy chairs and coffee tables.

Table and seating layout Top-table (if relevant) position Tables for demonstration items, paperwork, hand-outs, etc Electricity power points and extensions Heating and lighting controls Projection and flip chart equipment positioning and correct operation Whereabouts of toilets and emergency exits - fire drill Confirm reception and catering arrangements Back-up equipment contingency Refreshments (if any)

Your own positioning at the meeting in relation to the group is vitally important. If you are confident and comfortable and your own authority then you should sit close to the others, and can even sit among people. If you expect challenge or need to control the group strongly set yourself further away and clearly central, behind a top-table table at the head of things. It is important to ensure re that everyone can see screens and flip charts properly or

All of the above can and will go wrong unless you check and confirm - when you book the venue and then again a few days before the meeting.

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the person who will be speaking and actually sit in the chairs to check you'll be surprised how poor the view is from certain positions.

people to bring laptops for exercises and presentation to the group assuming you have LCD projector is available and compatible.

It would also be beneficial to set up of projectors and screens which is vitally important and strive for the perfect rectangular image, as this gives a professional, controlled impression as soon as you start. Experiment with the adjustment of projector and screen until its how you want it. If you are using LCD projector and overhead projector (a rare beast these days) you may need two screens. A plain white wall is often better than a poor screen.

In venues that have not been purposebuilt for modern presentations, sometimes the lighting is problematical. If there are strong fluorescent lights above the screen that cannot be switched off independently, it is sometimes possible for them to be temporarily disconnected (by removing moving the starter, which is a small plastic cylinder plugged into the side of the tube holder). In older buildings it sometimes possible to temporarily remove offending light-bulbs light if they are spoiling the visual display, but always enlist the help of one of the venue's staff rather than resorting to DIY.

People from the western world read from left to right, so if you want to present anything in order using different media, set it up so that people can follow it naturally from left to right. For instance show introductory bullet points (say on a flip chart on the left - as the audience sees it) and the detail for each point (say on projector and screen on the right). There may be meetings that use material from other languages which is why you should consider the arrangement of your materials and resources in relation to your attendees.

Finally, look after the venue's staff - you need them on your side. Most business users treat hotel and conference staff disdainfully so show them some respect and appreciation and they will be more than helpful.

Meeting Timing & Attendees

Position screens and flip chart in order that they can be used comfortably without obscuring the view. Ensure the speaker/chairman's position is to the side of the screen, not in front of it obscuring the view. Ensure any extension leads and wiring is taped to the floor or otherwise safely covered and protected. Supply additional flip chart easels and paper, or write-on acetates and pens, for syndicate work if applicable. You can also ask

It is important to make a list of the crucial attendees or delegates for your meeting and check whether they will be able to make it on the scheduled date and time for your meeting. It would be wise to be flexible on the timing to ensure that you hold the meeting at a time when all the key participants can make it. It is important to ensure that the date you choose causes minimum disruption for all

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concerned so that you get off to a good start for your meeting. It's increasingly difficult to gather people for meetings, particularly from different departments or organisations. So take care when finding the best date and pick a date which would be most convenient for your key speakers and participants. It can be a very important part of the process, particularly if senior people are involved.

duration of the meeting and the attendees' availability, but generally try to start early, or finish at the end of the working day. Two-hour hour meetings in the middle of the day waste a lot of time in travel. Breakfast meetings are a good idea in certain cultures, but can be too demanding in more relaxed environments. If attendees have long distances to travel you may need to consider overnight accommodation and the arrangement of accommodation for them.

For meetings that repeat on a regular basis the easiest way to set dates is to agree them in advance at the first meeting when everyone can commit there and then. Try to schedule a year's worth of meetings if possible and you can circulate and publish the dates which would help to ensure people keep to them and are able to make it as they are prepared for the meeting in advance.

If the majority have to stay overnight it's often worth getting the remainder to do so as well because the team building benefits from evening ng socialising are considerable, and well worth the cost of a hotel room. Overnight accommodation the night before also allows for a much earlier start. By the same token, consider people's travelling times after the meeting, and don't be unreasonable again ain offer overnight accommodation if warranted - it will allow a later finish, and generally keep people happier.

Pre-planning meeting dates is one of the keys to achieving control and wellorganised meetings. Conversely, if you were to leave the scheduling of a meeting date and time to late it would be hard to agree dates for meetings and will almost certainly inconvenience people, which is a major source of upset and disappointment for creating productive progression within a company.

As with other aspects of the meeting arrangements, if in doubt always ask people what they prefer which would help to further spur productivity productivi in your meeting.

Generally it would be beneficial to consult and gather an agreement of best meeting dates for everyone, but ultimately you will often need to be firm. Use the 'inertia method', i.e., suggest a date and invite alternative suggestions, rather than initially asking for suggestions, which rarely achieves a quick agreement.

Meeting Agenda The meeting agenda plays a crucial role in the flow of your meeting and ultimately helps you to conduct the meeting with ease and ensure that all participants can get involved and know what they are

The times to start and finish a meeting or training event depend on the type of

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talking about. It would be helpful to include all the relevant information and circulate it in advance of your meeting to ensure that all participants can gather the concept of your meeting and contribute effectively to the

and concentrate on practicality which could help you drive your meeting forward. For each item, explain the purpose, and if a decision is required, say so. If it's a creative item, say so. If it's for information, say so. Put timings, or time-per-item, tim or both (having both is helpful for you as the chairman). If you have guest speakers or presenters for items, name them. Plan coffee breaks and a lunch break if relevant, and ensure the caterers are informed. Aside from these formal breaks you should allow natural 'comfort' breaks every 45-60 45 minutes, or people lose concentration and the meeting becomes less productive.

discussion. If you are holding a training event you may also find it beneficial to circulate an agenda or plan of what will be discussed. If you want to avoid having the ubiquitous and time-wasting 'Any Other Business' on your agenda, circulate the agenda well in advance and ask for additional items to be submitted for consideration. Formal agendas for board meetings and committees will normally have an established fixed format, which applies for every meeting. This type of formal agenda normally begins with: • • • •

Hosting the Meeting If you are the key host of the meeting be prepared and plan what you are going to say in advance. The key to success for your meeting is keeping control and keeping your calm. You can achieve a confident demeanour by sticking to the agenda, managing the relationships and personalities, and concentrating on outcomes. Meetings must have a purpose. Every item must mus have a purpose. Remind yourself and the group of the required outcomes and steer the proceedings towards making progress, not hot air.

apologies for absence approval of previous meeting's minutes (notes) matters arising (from last meeting) and then the main agenda, finishing with 'any other business'.

For more common or informal style meetings which could be about departmental, sales teams, projects, adhoc issues, etc), try to avoid the formality

Try to encourage and motivate those who are nervous. Take notes as you go, 8


recording the salient points and the agreed actions, with names, measurable outcomes and deadlines. Do not record everything word-for-word, and if you find yourself taking over the chairmanship of a particularly stuffy group which produces reams of notes and very little else, then change things. Concentrate on achieving the outcomes you set the meeting when you drew up the agenda. Avoid racing away with decisions if your aim was simply discussion and involving people. Avoid hours of discussion if you simply need a decision. Avoid debate if you simply need to convey a policy issue. Policy is policy and that is that.

manage people and tasks and outcomes through meetings. Try to stick to the agenda by putting utting the less important issues at the top of the agenda, not the bottom. If you put them on the bottom you may never get to them because you'll tend to spend all the time on the big issues. Ensure any urgent issues are placed up the agenda and any non-urgent non items place down the agenda if you are going to miss any you can more easily afford to miss these. Try to achieve a varied mix through the running order while you are hosting. Also be mindful of the lull that generally affects people after lunch, so try ry to avoid scheduling the most boring item of the agenda at this time; instead after lunch get people participating and involved, whether speaking, presenting, debating or doing other active things and this would also be beneficial in training events. Ensure En you know what the meeting's purpose is to have a clear vision for running the meeting smoothly. Decide the issues for inclusion in the meeting and their relative priority: importance and urgency as they are quite different and need treating in different ways.

It would help to defer new issues to another time. Practice and use the phrase 'You may have a point, but it's not for this meeting - we'll discuss it another time.' (And then remember to do it.) If you don't know the answer say that you'll get back to everyone with the answer, or append it to the meeting notes. If someone persistently moans on about a specific issue that is not on the agenda, quickly translate it into a simple exploratory or investigative project, and bounce it back to them, with a deadline to report back their findings and recommendations to you. Use the rules on delegation to help you

You can avoid the pressure for 'Any Other Business' at the end of the meeting if you circulate a draft agenda in advance of the meeting, and ask for any other items for consideration. 'Any Other Business' can often create a free-for-all free session that wastes time, and gives rise 9


to new tricky expectations, which if not managed properly then closes the meeting on a negative note and may change the overall outcome of your meeting.

• •

Inevitably, there will always be more than one aim or goals for a meeting or training event and , almost all meetings bring with them the need and opportunity to care for and to develop people, le, as individuals or as a team these goals need to be reflected in the meeting. Planning is a crucial factor in having a successful meeting and without proper planning and implementing of the structures that create the perfect meeting you will be unable to t hold a professional meeting or training event.

Finally thank your attendees or participants for their contribution and participation in attending the meeting and ensure that everyone is happy with the overall running of the meeting and had a chance to voice their opinions if necessary.

Key Factors Affecting How Best to Run Meetings

When you run a meeting you are making demands on people's time and attention. When you run meeting you have an authority to do so, which you must use wisely. This applies also if the people at the meeting are re not your direct reports, and even if they are not a part of your organisation. Whatever the apparent reason for the meeting, you have a responsibility to manage the meeting so that it is a positive and helpful experience for all who attend. Having this aim, alongside the specific meeting objectives can help you develop an ability and reputation for running effective meetings that people are happy to attend.

Your choice of structure and style in running an effective and successful meeting is hugely dependent on several factors which include the following which are: •

Your position and relationship with the team The aims of the meeting.

The situation (circumstances, mood, atmosphere, background, environment) The organisational context of the implications and needs of the business or project or organisation The team, or the meeting delegates (the needs and interests of those attending) You and your position(your own role, confidence, experience, your personal aims, etc)

Taking Account of the Meeting and Minutes Distribution

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It is important to consider the need for meeting minutes or note taking so that the important factors that were discussed in the meeting can be taking into account a record of it can be made. Training events can also benefit from having a summary of notes for the participants to receive once the meeting has finished. It is important to consider who will be taking the meeting notes or minutes, and who will keep command for the meeting. You could appoint a member of your team to record the minutes or you could hire a recording device and have the meeting recorded.

person or persons named responsible, with a deadline. The final crucial element is following up the agreed actions (your own included). If you run a great meeting, issue great notes, and then fail to ensure the actions are completed, all is lost, not least your credibility. You must follow up agreed actions and nd hold people to them. If you don't they will very soon learn that they can ignore these agreements every time negative conditioning - it's the death of managing teams and results. By following up agreed actions, at future meetings particularly, (when there here is an eager audience waiting to see who's delivered and who hasn't), you will positively condition your people to respond and perform, and you will make meetings work for you and your team.

Meeting notes are essential for managing meeting actions and outcomes and working on goals to be achieved. They also cement agreements and clarify confusions.. A meeting without notes is mostly pointless as you will not be able to remember or take account of who said what and it will be harder for you to implement a way forward, therefore notes are essential both in meetings and in training events. Actions go unrecorded and therefore forgotten. Attendees feel that the meeting was largely pointless because there's no published record.

Final Note on achieving success for your Meeting/Training Event

After the meeting it would be beneficial to circulate the minutes and copy to all attendees, including date of next meeting if applicable, and copy to anyone else who should see the notes.

As discussed in this e-book e guide there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when creating the perfect meeting or training event. Although planning a meeting would seem an easy task at hindsight, it becomes inevitable that planning ning a successful meeting or training event is more difficult then it would first appear to be. However, with the tips outlined in this guide and the sound advice you can be one step closer

The notes should be brief or people won't read them, but they must still be precise and clear. Include relevant facts, figures, accountabilities, actions and timescales. Any agreed actions must be clearly described, with 11


to organising a successful meeting or training event with enthusiasm. Meetings and training events can enhance the growth of your business and further create opportunities for improvement and change within your company that can further spur success. There are many things that need to be considered when hosting the perfect meeting and one of the most important aspects of creating the perfect meeting is to plan the meeting effectively. Every detail and expenditure should be noted down in order to get an idea of your overall budget and work accordingly to book the right venue for your meeting. The venue of your meeting also plays a crucial role in creating the right mood and environment for your attendees and sets the mood for serious business or motivating training event. Attendees are more likely to contribute and participate to a meeting if they are in a comfortable environment and therefore it is important to take care of your attendees needs and ensure that their requirements are catered for. It is also important to take a note of the following by finding the right meeting room for your purpose and consider whether the boardroom, roundtable, or classroom style layout would be best for your meeting or training event. It would be beneficial to pre-book your technology for your meeting or traning event and ensure that you have the resources such as screens, projectors, video-conferencing (and someone to help you work it, if required!)

spur discussion and room for improvement. On the day of your meeting it would be better to arrive early to set-up set and remind yourself of the details of the meeting. In addition you should try to chair the meeting firmly ensuring that you plan out the time allowance for each agenda point and aim to start and finish on time if you can achieve the correct timing. Try to ensure clear and detailed notes are taken either by you or delegate the job to someone else at the meeting so that you can present prese the meeting notes either at the next meeting or send them to your attendees. If you are holding a training event it would be a good idea to create a summary of what you have covered in paper form and send it to all the participants of the event. This would wo leave room for any feedback if one wanted to get in touch regarding what they have learnt or make any suggestions to be discussed at a later date. Lastly it would be beneficial to wrap up the meeting or training event by reiterating agreed actions, responsibilities re and next steps which you and the participants have agreed on which can further help to enhance and nourish your goals for the company. The final point that you have to ensure is to follow-up follow the meeting promptly with the contact report and next meeting dates and lastly have a wonderful and successful meeting. Author: Tasnim Nazeer

Remember to try to brief attendees in advance and make sure everyone knows the agenda and purpose of the meeting with the desired outcomes which will help

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Ultimate Guide To Perfect Meetings