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Opening A Meeting Effectively In 7 Easy Steps

Strong openings are the key to productive meetings. Starting a meeting effectively helps you set the tone, introduce the main topic, set expectations, and make a good first impression. In this new episode of Talaera Talks, you will learn an effective step-by-step roadmap to open your meetings and set them up for success.

Opening A Meeting In 7 Steps

The beginning of a meeting is more important than one may think. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting through a meeting without really seeing the point. A meeting opening should be informative, so make sure you let the participants know the purpose and goals of the meeting. But not only that – it should also get participants excited and involved by showing them why this meeting is important to them. To cover all the important points, follow the steps below.

1. Preparation and agenda

When you set up a meeting, stop for a moment and think. Consider the goal of the meeting and what key outcomes you want to get out of it. Then, send out an agenda (ideally a week in advance) with the major points that you’d like to cover during the meeting. The agenda should include the objectives of the meeting, some questions for participants to start thinking about, and potentially some key homework and takeaways that they should be considering.

2. Small Talk

In business, it is polite to make small talk while you wait for the meeting to start. Although the length of small talk varies depending on the culture and the context, a good rule of thumb is to allow between 3 and 7 minutes. Let people get into the feel of the meeting, see each other, and chat a bit before diving into the main topic. Learn how to win at small talk – Surviving the First 5 Minutes of a Virtual Meeting.

3. Welcome and thank everyone for joining

Once all the participants have arrived, the person in charge of the meeting should welcome the attendees and thank them for joining. Choose at least one of the phrases below:

  • Alright, it seems we’re all here. I see we’re all set and ready to go. Thank you for taking the time to meet today.
  • Thank you for joining.
  • Since everyone is here, we should get started.
  • I really appreciate you all for attending this meeting today.
  • Thank you for joining us today. It’s great to see you all.

At this point, you may need to introduce yourself in a professional way and potentially other participants.

4. Follow up from last meeting’s points

If you have any important points from the previous meeting, now it’s the time to follow up.

  • In our previous meeting, we discussed points A, B, and C. And we decided on points one, two, and three.
  • As you all know, we’ve been working on the new feature based on the discussion we had last week.
  • In our previous meeting, we briefly touched on our business strategy, and today I’d like to discuss this topic more in depth.
  • Last month, we talked about how we could implement a better workflow for new users.

5. Context (Why are we meeting?)

Provide the context of why the meeting is happening. Now, if they’re good attendees, they may have read the prep work and agenda that you sent beforehand but it is always good to provide some context. Clearly tell them the reason why you invited them. This step will help you keep everyone involved and interested in the meeting.

  • Before we dive into the meeting today, I’d like to set some context for the topic that we’ll be discussing.
  • Over the past week or so, our team has been discussing this point, and we felt that it was a great opportunity to get everybody together and discuss it in depth. 

6. Objectives and expectations

Set very clear objectives and state the type of action items you would like to define by the end of the meeting. Be specific about the purpose of each agenda item and tell them why you are meeting and what you want to get out of it. You will want to use verbs and action words for this section (generate ideas, find a solution, decide the budget).

  • The goal of our meeting today is to identify what steps we can take to more effectively utilize the marketing budget. So we’ve gathered you all here today to brainstorm some ideas and we’re hoping that by the end of today, we’ll have a few action items that can get us to the next place or where we want to be.
  • Our main goal today is to gather status reports from the team. This will allow us to see where we stand and what the next steps should be.

7. Meeting roadmap

The last step is to provide a clear roadmap for the meeting. Explain the dynamics and put time markers on it if you think it makes sense.

  • I’d like to start by answering any questions that you may have about the budget and any for me to shed some more light on this topic. I think it would be really helpful to open up the discussion to any ideas that the team may have based on the points that I sent last week. From there, after we’ve identified a few action items, I like for us to split up the tasks to make sure that, before the next meeting, we’re all set on what we need to accomplish.
  • I’d like to start the meeting by answering any questions for about 5 to 10 minutes. Hopefully, that can provide you with some clarity. And then from there, I think it’d be helpful to have about 15-20 minutes of open discussion and brainstorm on any of the ideas that our team may have. I want to make sure that we leave about five to seven minutes at the end so that we’re all clear on what the next action items are before our next meeting.

Conclusion

Before scheduling a meeting, think about why you need it and what you would like to get out of it. Then, send some preparation materials to participants before the meeting. Allow a few minutes for some small talk, welcome and thank everyone for joining, and follow up on the points from the previous meeting. Make sure you provide context (why we you meeting?), set very clear objectives or goals for what you want to accomplish, and end with a clear roadmap of all the different points that you will be covering throughout the meeting.

It may seem that there are quite a few steps to open a meeting, but it is one of those things that once you try it a few times, it will come naturally. So check it out. Try it a few times. Use the notes. And tell us your best tips to start a meeting effectively.

This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 44. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.

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If you enjoyed this article, keep reading:

Talaera Talks – Transcript Episode 44

If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform.

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Intro
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we’re going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!


0:24
Welcome back to another episode of Talaera Talks. This is your host, Simon, coming to you from Copenhagen, Denmark. I hope wherever you are, you’re having a great day and tuning into this Talaera Bit. So let’s get started. What are we talking about today? One of those kind of transition things that you need to do can be a little bit awkward. How do you do it when we’re opening a meeting? What are the steps to take to do it in a professional way to do it in a way where you make sure that everybody is comfortable and on the right track that you’re going to get the meeting going and in an organized way? So if you are very smart, you will do a little bit of preparation beforehand. So whether you’re meeting in person, or whether you’re meeting online, it may be a good idea to send out an agenda, possibly a week in advance with a few of the major points that you’d like to cover during the meeting. So this could involve Yeah, the objectives of the meeting, it could also involve some questions that you would like people to start thinking over with some key kind of homework and takeaway that they should be considering.

1:52
So you get to the day of the meeting. And a lot of times, you want to allow maybe 5-6-7 minutes of some small talk, let people kind of get into the feel of the meeting, get to get to see each other get to discuss and chat a little bit. And then when it gets to a reasonable pause, you can start the meeting. And the first thing you want to do is thank everyone for joining. So you could say something like, ‘Okay, we’re all here, I see we’re all set and ready to go. Thank you for taking the time to meet today’, or ‘thank you for joining’.

2:32
And then if you do have points from the previous meeting, you can use that time to follow up and just say okay, ‘so in our previous meeting, we discussed points A, B, and C. And we decided on points one, two, and three’. From there, you want to provide the context of why are we meeting today. Now, if they’re good attendees, they may have read the prep work that you sent beforehand. But it’s always good to just provide some context. So you can say something like, ‘Okay, before we dive into the meeting, today, I’d like to set some context for the topic that we’ll be discussing’. Or you could say, ‘well, over the past week or so our team has been discussing this point. And we felt that it was a great opportunity to get everybody together and really discuss it in depth’. So you’re providing that reason for why people are meeting that’s very important.

3:41
Then from there, you want to set the objective. Why? Why are we meeting today? What what is what is the goal? What are we trying to get out of the meeting today? What expectations are we setting? So you could say something like and being very clear, ‘The goal of our meeting today is to identify what steps we can take to more effectively utilize the marketing budget. So we’ve gathered you all here today to brainstorm some ideas and we’re hoping that by the end of today, we’ll have a few action items that can get us to the next place or where we want to be’. So what I did there was I just set some very clear objectives that by the end of our meeting today, we want to have action items, which is a great way to say we want to have actionable items, things that we need to do that are using verbs that we’re going to have done before our next meeting.

4:48
Now, when setting expectations, you could also say ‘we’re all here today to review the points that I sent out last week in the prep material that I sent out’. And you want to make sure that the objective isn’t too big to where it’s going to be something that’s not realistic for the meeting. You want to make sure that it’s realistic.

5:14
And then the last step is to provide a roadmap for the meeting. So you could say something like, ‘I’d like to start by answering any questions that you may have about the budget and any clarity that I can provide around that. And then I think it would be really helpful to open up the discussion to any ideas that the team may have based on the points that I sent last week. From there, after we’ve identified a few action items. I like for us to kind of split up the tasks to make sure that before the next meeting, we’re all set on what we need to accomplish’. So there, I gave a very clear roadmap of what we’ll be doing throughout the meeting. And of course, if it makes sense to put some time markers on it, you can do that. So you could say, ‘I’d like to start the meeting by answering any questions for about five to 10 minutes. Hopefully, that can you provide some clarity. And then from there, I think it’d be helpful to have about 15-20 minutes of open discussion and brainstorm on any of the ideas that our team may have. I want to make sure that we leave about Yeah, five to seven minutes at the end so that we’re all very clear on what the next action items are before our next meeting’.

6:36
So what did we do today? We made sure to identify some preparation material we can send before the meeting, we allowed for some small talk, we thanked everyone for joining, followed up on the last meetings points. We made sure to provide context, which is the why we are meeting, we set very clear objectives or goals for what we want to accomplish. And then we made sure to provide a roadmap of all the different points throughout the meeting that we’ll be covering. So opening the meeting, it sounds like there’s several steps, but really, it’s one of those things that once you try it a few times it will come very naturally. So check it out. Try it a few times, use the notes. And as always, keep learning.

7:48
And that’s all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to
subscribe to Talaera Talks. We’ll be back soon with more! And visit our website at talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!

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