Keeping Your Meeting Moving

By Lain Ehmann

Packing as much as possible into each minute of your meeting is critical when you’re asking your sales team to give up field time. Kathy Donnell of Donnell Meeting Management in Pueblo, CO, says it’s important to think about streamlining your meeting beforehand to make the most of the time you have.

Efficiency starts before the meeting. Before the meeting starts, Donnell suggests issuing an agenda that lets everyone know the details of the meeting, such as when and where, the goals and the activities they’ll be participating in. “Convey and communicate to individuals the meeting start time and end time,” she says. Nothing’s worse than getting off to a slow start because half your attendees don’t show up on time. Good preparation will mean everyone’s on the same page.

Pay attention to your physical surroundings. How far is it from one meeting room to another? Do attendees need time to park at an adjoining building? Are shuttles available or are they on their own for transportation? All these elements will affect how long you should allow between sessions. “You have to be cognizant and aware of your physical surroundings. You also have to be realistic,” Donnell says. “You need to build walking around time into agendas.” Donnell also suggests having plenty of signage or people available to assist in directing attendees from one location to another.

Toe the starting line. If you’ve scheduled a meeting to start at 9 a.m. make sure it starts on the hour, not at 9:01. If you delay, don’t be surprised when attendees take their time too – they’re taking their cues from you. People like to mill around before meetings begin, so create a way to move them quickly into the meeting room. Donnell suggests blinking the lights on and off or signaling with bells to let people know it’s time to take their seats. She also suggests closing a few doors to the ballroom and playing loud music inside the room to create a feeling of excitement and urgency.

Shave minutes where you can. For Q&A sessions pass out index cards and ask people to write down their questions instead of having them line up at microphones or raise their hands. This allows the presenter time to formulate appropriate responses, group questions and get in more material. A minute here and a minute there might not seem like enough to make a difference, but “10 minutes here and 10 minutes there adds up,” says Donnell.

For more information, please contact Kathy Donnell at 719-564-0999.