How to Open a Business Meeting

Start out with a bit of fun, even if the meeting's topic is less than fun.

Start out with a bit of fun, even if the meeting's topic is less than fun.

A boring business meeting can stretch out endlessly. If you're the one in charge of planning a meeting, make it less painful by opening the meeting in a positive -- and possibly even fun -- way. Be organized and keep the mood light. You may find that you get a lot more work done when a meeting begins on a positive note.

Create an agenda for the meeting, outlining the topics you will discuss in a bullet point or outline format. If appropriate, detail how much time you will spend on each topic, so people won't be surprised if you have to move on to the next item on the agenda in the middle of a discussion. Email the agenda to the attendees a day or two before the meeting. Print out copies of the agenda and pass them out as people enter the meeting room.

Start the meeting at the designated time by thanking everyone for being there. You may choose to actually start the meeting a few minutes after the designated time, so that stragglers won't interrupt you as they come in.

Have the attendees introduce themselves, if the size of the meeting allows it. If you're holding a meeting with more than a dozen people, it may be too time- consuming to allow introductions for the whole group; in that case, have people introduce themselves to the people at their table or offer name tags to attendees.

Lead an icebreaker activity to get everyone loosened up before the meeting. The icebreaker should pertain to the meeting's topic. If you're going over the various roles for the people in the company, for example, do an activity in which you ask other employees to define their co-worker's role. If the meeting is geared toward generating new ideas for the company, get your team members warmed up by asking them to brainstorm ideas for something trivial, such as the best ice cream sundae toppings or all of the cities they can think of that start with a certain letter.

Review the agenda so that everyone is aware of what will be happening and when. Ideally, you'll have some time built in to the meeting for "new business" or feedback, so that attendees know they'll have time for their concerns to be addressed.

Tip

  • Offering coffee, tea and snacks is a good way to get meeting attendees feeling comfortable and able to focus during the meeting. If you do offer refreshments, put them in a place where they will be easily accessible and won't cause a distraction during the meeting. Also, offer something for people to "play" with during the meeting, such as balls or soft toys that engage the senses, suggests business meeting consultant Bernie DeKoven.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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