Fun & Strategic Meetings

By Kimberly L. McCall

Many sales meetings are a snooze, so attendees may be less that agog at attending. Take a few pointers from Janelle Hail, a meeting-planning veteran and founder of the National Breast Cancer Foundation ( based in Addison, TX, to make your next meeting something they’ll remember.

  • Begin the meeting with refreshments, and include that on your pre-meeting agenda. People generally aren’t late when food is involved.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time to show respect for everyone’s schedule.
  • Distribute an agenda a few days ahead that outlines the purpose of the meeting and topics for discussion. Distribute the same agenda at the meeting but add complete details and white space for note taking.
  • Engage attendees by starting with a 10-minute segment during which participants can share brief personal victories about their awards, achievements or accomplishments. Let them know they each have 30 seconds to talk. This builds participant excitement when individuals know they have a limited time to say something that is important to them.
  • Before the meeting, check out the room at the time of day your meeting will be held for any unusual distractions, like heating or air conditioning noises.
  • Give pre-assignments on topics that require additional information. Don’t try to gather information that must be obtained outside of the meeting during the meeting. If people who cannot attend have important information to share, ask them to submit a written report to participants.
  • Stimulate interaction by arranging the seating in a semi-circle so people can observe each other. Having one row of chairs lined up behind another does not stimulate interest or responsiveness from the audience.
  • Strategically place assistants around the meeting room who can carry out tasks and assist the leader, such as communicating with the sound system technician, controlling room temperature and making sure water pitchers are filled.
  • Have a name badge for everyone. Print the first name in large letters on the top line and the full name in smaller letters on the line beneath. Designated leaders should encourage interaction by calling people by their first names as they approach them.
  • Insert strategic breaks in the meeting to offer networking opportunities. Present an interesting topic for discussion just before dismissing for a break. When the meeting starts again, ask participants to offer the ideas they discussed during the break. This will draw the audience into the next segment of the program.
  • Salespeople are motivated by rewards. Contests with prizes motivate salespeople by showing appreciation for goals reached. Everything must relate to how it affects them personally, not just how the company is affected.
  • Stop when the meeting is no longer fun and has become laborious. Creativity flows out of energy. Stimulate discussions in small group, and then pool ideas before the entire group.