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How to Prepare for a Business Meeting

Step 1Determine if you are running the meeting or expected to participate in any fashion. If you are in charge of arrangements, be ready to coordinate scheduling, materials and the pacing of the meeting.

Step 2Set a goal for the meeting. Decide if you are trying to make a sale, bring an investor on board, train employees about company policies or brainstorm new product ideas.

Step 3Set an agenda for the meeting. Give participants a heads up if the meeting is expected to be particularly long. Allow time for bathroom or refreshment breaks. Prepare a schedule if there will be multiple speakers or presenters.

Step 4Make arrangements for a meeting room, conference call or online meeting. Book a time that works for all key participants. Call or email the group to make sure that the chosen time works for everyone.

Step 5Send out time and location details to all participants. If you are dealing with employees, let them know if attendance is mandatory or optional. Email conference call-in numbers and codes if you are arranging a phone meeting.

Step 6Prepare for any needed equipment. For example, if you are going to have a computer presentation, be sure that the conference room has a screen and projector. Know how to hook your laptop up to the projector so that you don’t have to waste valuable meeting time dealing with technical details.

Step 7Take your presentation for a test drive before you do it in front of clients. Make sure your sales or investment pitch is professional, concise and interesting. Endless charts projected on a screen don’t make for compelling meetings. Understand your audience, how you can meet their needs and what goals you want to reach.

Step 8Gather materials. Print off handouts. Make sure there are enough chairs for everyone. Prepare refreshments or make catering arrangements if necessary.

Step 9Remind participants 24 hours ahead, or on the morning of, the actual meeting. Aim to start the meeting promptly at the given time.