What is a Corporate Meeting?
Most people, when presented with the phrase “Corporate Meeting” have a mental image of top-level executives in a plush room at an exotic location. The attendees have jetted in from all over the globe to discuss matters of strategic importance, perhaps corporate strategies of ground-breaking potential.
Definition of a Corporate Meeting?
While there are undoubtedly meetings like this, most corporate meetings are much more humble affairs.
A working definition of a corporate meeting probably runs something like this:
“Corporate meetings are those business-oriented meetings which happen between business colleagues to evaluate and plan current and future business activities”.
The business colleagues can be from the same organization or groups of stakeholders with an interest in the subject matter of the meeting.
According to P.K. Ghosh “Any gathering, assembly, or coming together of two or more persons for the transaction of some lawful business of common concern is called meeting.”
According to K. Kishore, “A concurrence or coming together of at least a quorum of members by previous notice or mutual agreement for transaction business for a common interest is meeting.”
Whatever type it is it will need to be organized.
How to Conduct a Corporate Meeting?
We are all very familiar with meetings that seem to be pointless and drift aimlessly to an uncertain conclusion. That type of meeting generally arises from an unclear vision of the objectives of the meeting in the organizer, which leads to inadequate communication with the attendees and inadequate preparation by the organizer.
Proper planning can make meetings valuable, with a known format, known agenda, and concluding with an action plan of actions to be taken, by when and by whom, and most importantly, the date of the next meeting.
Sure enough, technology has eased the organization, particularly in communications, but it brings a raft of complications in its wake. As an example, video conferencing could be used rather than bringing all the attendees to a single location, but the venue needs to support it.
Before you start planning, confirm that the meeting is necessary, and it’s budget, or whether you can achieve the meeting objectives in another way. That decision may be made for you if there is no budget available.
The process of planning an effective meeting includes the following steps:
1. Agenda (Planning);
3. Supporting documentation creation, collation, and distribution;
4. The Attendee List
5. Accommodation – The meeting itself and if necessary attendees;
7. Technology Support
Of those, the most important is defining the agenda. Until that is agreed, it is difficult to define who the attendees are to be. The number and base locations of the attendees will drive a lot of decisions as to where the meeting is to be held and hence to the arrangements around the meeting itself.
The First Steps
Planning and agreeing on an Agenda is a vital first step in planning a corporate meeting. Only when this is done, can you begin to prepare the list of potential attendees and thereby see the potential size, duration, and physical arrangements of the meeting itself? It also allows you to calculate a budget for approval.
1. Plan The Meeting ( The Agenda )
Many meetings have a fixed agenda. As an example, items on an agenda for a corporate shareholders meeting are fixed by law in many jurisdictions. A regular business or project meeting may have a less structured format, but all are likely to be of the form: Setting an achievable agenda goes a long way toward having a successful meeting.
- Welcome and Introduction
- Recap of the minutes of the last meeting
- Any matters arising from the last meeting
- Today’s meeting proceedings:
- Item One
- Item Two
- And So On…
- Any other business
- Setting the date for the next meeting
Each item will have a start time and expected duration with refreshment breaks slotted in as required. Usually one break in the morning and afternoon, with a break for Power lunch.
Decide whether you need a formal detailed agenda or a rough outline of the topics to be covered, depending on the type of corporate meeting.
That seemingly simple task, coupled with the finalization of the attendee list can be a complex affair. Start and finish times can be a challenge in themselves. In some cases, they are driven by the need for key attendees to leave the meeting by a certain time, perhaps to meet transport deadlines.
If you are not the meeting host, then you need to work closely together to finalize the Agenda.
There will be costs associated with any meeting, meaning a budget must be approved and allocated. A small meeting may only need a departmental budget for coffee and biscuits. A large formal meeting may need venue hire, equipment hire, catering, accommodation, and perhaps some activities during downtime.
The other services needed to support the meeting depend on the meeting length. For a one day meeting, this may be organizing catering for the morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks. There may also be a fetch-and-drop requirement for visiting attendees.
It is essential to have a budget in place before the planning starts.
3. Supporting Documentation
At the very least attendees will need a copy of the Agenda, setting out where the meeting is to be held, the date and time of it, and the proposed Agenda itself.
Many meetings will require documentation to be provided to support the various items on the Agenda. In the past, a meeting pack was prepared for each attendee, physically printed and collated, then dispatched by courier. This is itself could be a time-consuming and tedious task.
Nowadays, emailed attachments and mailing lists can take a lot of the physical effort out of the process, and save considerable amounts of time and cost.
Confirmation of the contents of the meeting pack to be provided needs to be given by the host.
A growing trend is for attendees to use smart devices and laptops to look at online copies of the material and not printed copies.
One thing to bear in mind when using the Internet or email to distribute meeting material is what to do if the Internet is not available or an attendee has not been able to collect email. It will be prudent to keep a couple of copies of the material to hand in paper form.
Don’t forget paper, pencils, and a bottle of water on the meeting table.
4. The Attendee List
Bear in mind that compilation of the attendee list can be a politically adventurous task, as the meeting organizer and some potential attendees may have very definite ideas on who should and who should not attend the meeting.
Make up a contact sheet with their exact contact details, including work and personal email addresses, work and home landline and cellphone numbers, WhatsApp contact details for toll-free calling to remote attendees.
The personal contact information is needed for attendees traveling to the venue in case you need to contact them in transit, and their business contacts are not available.
The contact list can also be used as an e-mailing list for the agenda and any supporting documentation.
When the attendee list is complete and agreed, you can then start the physical organization of the meeting.
5. Accommodation (Venue)
Whether you have an in-house meeting or at an external location will depend on two things:
- The venue needs the right number of rooms of the required size, shape, and type.
2. The technology is available at the proposed venue. Attendees and presenters will need WiFi for their smart devices and laptops. One point that is often overlooked is the power supply. A meeting will need extension cables and distribution boards to support power connections to several devices at one time. Device chargers will be critical.
If the meeting has international attendees, be aware that their power requirements might be different.
Traveling attendees will need overnight accommodation for meetings of more than one day. It is highly likely that larger corporates will have arrangements with hotel chains. Procurement will arrange accommodation for you. In smaller companies, the accommodation venue is likely to be determined by the available budget.
Catering can be a minefield. Single-day meetings will need lunch and coffee or tea morning and afternoon. The lunch could be either plated or a buffet depending on the venue and budget.
If a formal dinner is held, then close liaison with the venue is needed to agree on the menu and organization.
Be aware of cultural and religious needs, such as Halaal. Alcohol is also an issue. In some countries, there will be no alcohol allowed, and in others, alternatives must be provided.
Technology has had a great impact on meetings. In the past, the most sophisticated technology in the room was a slide projector. Today, the venue must have WiFi capable of supporting a decent speed of access for multiple smart devices per attendee. A venue may also need to support video conferencing if some remote attendees are using it to join the meeting.
On the organizational side, new apps are springing up to help with the planning process. As an example, the Meeting Play app helps planners keep track of RSVPs and assists with checking in to a meeting if that is needed.
The support team for the meeting should include IT to make sure that all these technologies are working and to provide support for any issues that might arise.
8. Other Considerations
The other services needed to support the meeting depend on the meeting sessions. For a one day meeting, this may be organizing catering for the morning, Power lunch, and afternoon breaks. There may also be a fetch-and-drop requirement for visiting attendees.
For longer meetings, there will be a need to organize accommodation and transport between the accommodation and the meeting venue. For some meetings, you may also need to offer entertainment and excursions for the attendees.
Organizing a corporate meeting can be simple, or it can be complex and take up the time of a lot of people. The current trend is to outsource the organization of larget meetings to a specialist who, given the attendee list, an outline program, and a budget will organize it for you.