The atmosphere and mood that set the tone for a meeting are usually created in the first 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t take it for granted or ignore the start of the meeting as a useless initiation rite that you have to endure before moving on to the real thing. The beginning helps participants feel comfortable in the warm and welcoming atmosphere created by the organizer, while chaos and disorganization can make people withdraw and lose interest.
It is essential to include an unstructured “warm-up” in the meeting plan so that participants can say hello and have a few words, so be sure to set aside 5-10 minutes on the agenda for this. The informal conversations, the exchange of jokes that precede lots of work meetings may seem untimely and useless. However, they are invaluable: it all adds up to an atmosphere of ease, openness, and honesty.
For the informal “warm-up” to be useful, you need to discuss with the members of the group its purpose. The challenge is to ensure that each participant views this stage as a perfectly legitimate part of the meeting. Nevertheless, people shouldn’t take this as permission to come to a meeting 5-10 minutes late. Announce the basic rule to participants:
- meetings begin exactly at the appointed time;
- everyone must be on time;
- the first item on the agenda is a short informal “warm-up” for communication.
The very beginning of the meeting can be organized with a welcome message written on a flipchart or a slide on the screen, which usually contains both the greeting itself and instructions for those arriving. The welcome address should be quite large and bright. Therefore, every participant in the meeting who enters the room will certainly pay attention to it.
Opening Remarks for a Board Meeting
First, you need to determine the format of the meeting. Board meetings should be accompanied by more formal introductory remarks to express appreciation for the colleagues present. It is advisable to shorten the introductory words for more informal meetings. As for the round tables, they may not require as much preparation as each participant leads their part of the meeting.
Be Clear about the Purpose of the Meeting
Make sure everyone in the meeting understands what you will be talking about. It will be much harder for people to focus if you don’t set a clear goal or intention. Let them know what to expect after you’ve greeted them.
Follow the Agenda
Review what will be discussed in the meeting before moving on to new conversations. Different topics can lead to different discussions, which can get off-topic quickly if you don’t follow the planned agenda. An agenda helps you keep track of the meeting’s progress and topic, and gives attendees the ability to keep track of how long the meeting has been going on. Avoid confusion.
Determine the Basic Rules for Keeping Order
First, it is worth reminding the participants of the rules of the meeting. Depending on the meeting, you may have more ground rules than others. A business meeting may have a rule that attendees must be detailed and specific in their presentations. It will be much harder to enforce any rules if you raise them at random times.