There are many ways a meeting can go horribly wrong. But there are a few ways to get it right. Unless you want to waste your and the attendees’ time and all your effort, you should be aware of the worst ways to start a meeting. A great start is the bedrock of a fruitful meeting. Hence it is absolutely imperative you get the right start.
The first thing you must ensure is punctuality. Regardless of what the variables may be or what circumstances may lead to any unforeseen delay, you must absolutely try to avoid any delay whatsoever. Starting a meeting late may not appear to be a huge factor, especially if the delay is for just a couple minutes, but it does have an adverse impact.
Not providing refreshments, a memo or not explicitly sharing the details of the meeting beforehand are the absolute worst ways to start a meeting. The least you can do is offer a cup of hot coffee to all attendees. You don’t always need biscuits or snacks. You may not need soft drinks or fresh juices. A cup of coffee can do the trick. Not providing any refreshment at all is outright unacceptable. There are studies and research that have inferred having a cup of coffee during meetings makes attendees more attentive and they are far more comfortable. Any meeting should have a proper precursor. When attendees walk into a meeting knowing nothing about it or what to expect from it, there is little that you can achieve. Preparation is quintessential, not only for the one presiding over the meeting but for each and every attendee. There is a reason why annual general meetings or board meetings are planned well in advance and there is a detailed note on the purpose of the meeting. Why is the meeting important, what is to be discussed, what is the goal and how the desired outcomes can be achieved are some of the important factors that everyone should be made aware of.
Not stating the ground rules or not establishing how the meeting would be moderated is a poor way to get started. Everyone should know what role they are supposed to play, who would have the veto to make decisions or if everyone would have equal voting rights, how long the meeting would go on and how, these are factors that must be shed light on. Else, a meeting can be a long drawn futile exercise.