More and more business is being done remotely these days, with email a particularly convenient tool for swapping information and ideas.
However, the face-to-face business meeting has huge advantages, allowing you to sell yourself and build up a relationship with the person behind the email. Meeting with clients to discuss ideas or contracts, pitching business opportunities to potential investors, and talking to other web professionals with the aim of collaborating on a project are just a few examples of how face-to-face meetings can benefit you.
The number one thing to remember in any meeting (including interviews) is to be yourself, but there are a few other things you can do to make a meeting run smoothly.
Set an agenda
To keep a meeting tight and focussed, a set series of points you want to talk about will help no end. These talking points will allow you to get what you want out of the meeting, and answer the questions that you were looking for in the first place. This approach will also help you get back on track if the conversation goes off on an alternate tangent, and will act as a guide for you if you forget where you were. Letting everyone know in advance what you want to talk about says that you mean business, and won’t waste anyone’s time unnecessarily.
If you have requested the meeting, write them down and send them to the other people attending. If you have been asked to attend, request that an agenda be sent through to you. Meeting points don’t need to be massive, just a brief summary or few words introducing the topics for discussion so you can all be prepare for them.
Once the agenda has been set, thoroughly prepare the things you are going to say. For some people this will mean writing down almost everything you are planning to say whereas for others, just a few notes will do. The danger of preparing a full script is that you end up simply reading it out to the people in the room, whilst the brief notes approach might not be enough for you to remember your key points.
Preparation is everything, not only will it help you to get what you want from the meeting, but it demonstrates your professionalism and dedication.
Trying to make eye contact with everyone in the meeting is harder than it sounds. Doing this too deliberately will look extremely weird as you will dart your head back and forth, consciously looking at everyone to make sure you have made the appropriate levels of eye contact. Not enough and you will come across as shy and not communicate effectively.
Try your best to talk to everyone, if you raise points and ask questions with the different people around the table, you’ll find that things like eye contact become natural and you’ll leave a lasting impression on everyone at the meeting.
As is true with most conversations, meetings can occasionally go off topic momentarily or someone might ask an unexpected question. Whilst there is almost nothing you can do about this, you have to be ready to go with the flow. Engaging with the people in the meeting by fielding their questions and talking to them outside of your meeting points can act as an ice-breaker and relax everybody else, which will ultimately help the meeting leave a lasting impression and run smoothly for all concerned.
Things like a good firm handshake and dressing smartly are something of a cliché, but they are also important. Making a good first impression will count for an awful lot and appearing confident will instil confidence in the people you are meeting. The opportunity to meet people in person is all about showing them who you are and what you can do for them, and appearing professional and confident will go a long way towards achieving this.
If you have any pieces of meeting advice gold, please feel free to share them in the comments below.